Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

The American Dream died and went to New Jersey. Local boy Todd Solondz was there to record it. In his first two movies, Welcome To The Dollhouse and Happiness, his interests were suburban hypocrisy and alienation. Sex played a prominent role, as a spoiler.

Storytelling looks like work in progress, a couple of short pieces that don't make the full 90 minutes. His cynical eye is as sharp as ever and his language still draws blood.

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In the first, political correctness is forced through the mockery machine. A creative writing course at college exposes the black Pulitzer prize winning teacher as a sadist, who wreaks vengeance on the daughters of the white nation by insulting their pathetic attempts at literature, while sexually humiliating those who fall for his uncompromising critical line. On the way to a bitter climax, Solondz takes a swipe at disability. His weapon is honesty.

In the second, a suburban family of authoritarian father, compliant mother, slacker teenage son, sports jock son and "Would anyone be interested in being hypnotised after dinner?" youngest son suffers Solondz's satirical whiplash. A failed documentary maker ("I work in a shoe store now. I'm not ashamed") decides to do a film on high school mores and discovers in the slacker son, a perfect subject. The only things he cares about are his CD collection and being famous. His parents, the school, girls and going to University are treated as unnecessary appendages to a life of indolent futility. Guns, boredom and sex enter into the equation quite naturally. Being a loser is pretty cool.

Solondz's humour remains dark. His dialogue is always brilliant. He prefers ugly to beauty. It's more real. Nice is not a word associated with him. Funny's better.

Reviewed on: 10 Aug 2001
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Dual storyline explores suburban hypocrisy.
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Read more Storytelling reviews:

Keith Hennessey Brown ****

Director: Todd Solondz

Writer: Gary Mitchell

Starring: Robert Wisdom, Leo Fitzpatrick, Paul Giamatti, John Goodman, Julie Hagerty

Year: 2001

Runtime: 83 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: US


EIFF 2001

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