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Life During Wartime

Todd Solondz re-examines the characters from Happiness

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Life During Wartime | NOT EXACTLY JUNE CLEAVER Allison Janney in Life During Wartime
Francisco Roman

This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco: With a title from Talking Heads, Life During Wartime is obsessive filmmaker Todd Solondz’s creepy/ beautiful, engrossing/repellent follow-up to his 1998 dystopian family epic Happiness. In fact, the same dystopian family from Happiness is back, played by a new cast. And Solondz pokes at the clan’s tender wounds in a kind of where-are-they-now reverie. One update: Pedophile dad (Ciarán Hinds) is out of prison. Another: The drama has moved from New Jersey to Miami, captured in a color-saturated palette that magnifies the heartbreak. The hard things to accept—let alone forgive—about human behavior are still hard. In a staring contest with his audience, Solondz never blinks. He picks and picks at the themes that consume him, and he doesn’t care who stays and who leaves. Me, I’m rapt. (Available on cable via on demand) B+