“I was suffering from the very beginning of Todd Solondz‘s Life During Wartime (IFC Films, 7.23),” I wrote during last year’s Toronto Film Festival, “and there was very little respite until I bolted, which was about 65 minutes in. I’d been seething, scowling, muttering, looking at my watch and asking myself, ‘Should I do the full suffer and stick it out until the end, or can I escape after an hour or so?’
“I left because I’ve never related to Solondz’s more-or-less constant theme — the inner monster in us all will always crawl out and can probably never be restrained — and I find it incredibly boring to sit through another icky-pervy exploration of same.
“I left because I’m just about burned out on the plight of a suffering male child molester as a topic of dramatic interest or intrigue. I think male child molesters should have their sexual organs chopped off with a dull axe. Other scenarios hold little interest.
“I left because I didn’t believe anything I was hearing — to my ear Solondz’s dialogue is always unnatural and rhetorical — and I didn’t believe any of the actors. To me they were just speaking the dialogue and trying like hell to make it all play realistically, but the odds were too great against them. Solondzworld is a place of constant guilt and venom and nightmares. Do the merciful thing — get out your father’s AK-47 and shoot yourself in the mouth. It’s easier and less complicated that way.
“I left because bitter middle-aged women who wear bad wigs (like Charlotte Rampling‘s character) don’t come over to a man’s table (i.e., one occupied by costar Ciarin Hinds) and start conversing with an unmistakable implication that some sort of erotic coupling is on her mind. It doesn’t happen that way, and it never will happen that way.
“And it doesn’t matter if Solondz agrees and wanted this scene to be seen as some kind of arch exercise. The point is that no one can relax and listen and settle in when a scene is bullshit.
“I left because the tall and large-boned Allison Janey could never be a sister to the tiny pipsqueak British actress Shirley Henderson — not in a million fucking years.
“I left because mothers never discuss erotic awakenings with their tweener-aged sons, and because it’s not funny when Solondz tries to make such scene into a form of dry ‘what if?’ comedy. Heh-heh, not really, fuck off.”