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Palindromes | Review

So Let the Sunshines in

Solondz preps his fans for some more child amidst concerned controversy.

Using a hybrid of young actors to impersonate a pre-teen protagonist whose maternal instincts are kicking in a little too early, – Palindromes vocalizes itself with a fairytale treatment that displays the type of world where two wrongs don’t make a right. Interchangeable characters, a thin plotline and Todd Solondz’s overtly politically-incorrect voice will give art house fans reasons to be concerned about the type of things that happen in the underbelly of middle America. This abortion-themed film follows the peril-filled journey of a 12-year old child named Aviva whose mother (Ellen Barkin – Down by Law) believes that no child of hers will sign-up to become a member of trailer-park trash generation. Morphing in size and constantly changing in disposition, the young Aviva’s most interesting pit-stop is when she finds herself amongst a warped, very-accepting family of good Christians who perform God’s songs in their finished basement. This is just one among the bizarre incidents in a film that is constructed as a palindrome itself – it can be read as either a totally backwards representation of the good people of America or as a very forward presentation of pro-lifers and pro-choicers. Providing his usual staple of disturbing habits from the suburban life settings, Palindromes comes equipped with the similar type of empathy for all of God’s creatures as demonstrated in his previous efforts. Such as in Alexandre Payne’s Citizen Ruth, Solondz chooses not to raise his own voice in the debate, but instead the right vs. wrong text is made with the intent to provoke thought in an environment that includes a storybook approach with title-cards and angelic hymns. There is much to be appreciated in his sense of bizarre and the only sense of interest lies not in the central debate, but instead in the usage of a central character. While the filmmaker gives us one more reason why he’ll never work for Disney, is perhaps his least delicious satire one where even fans of Solondz’s twisted sense of humor might find hard to appreciate.

Rating 2 stars

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Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at IONCINEMA.com, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

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