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Life During Wartime 2010

R CC
3.4 out of 5 stars (21) IMDb 6.5/10

Three sisters struggle with love, family and the American Dream in Todd Solondz's hilarious new film starring Allison Janney and Charlotte Rampling.

Starring:
Shirley Henderson, Michael Kenneth Williams
Runtime:
1 hour, 37 minutes

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Product Details

Genres Drama, Comedy
Director Todd Solondz
Starring Shirley Henderson, Michael Kenneth Williams
Supporting actors Roslyn Ruff, Allison Janney, Michael Lerner, Dylan Riley Snyder, Ciarán Hinds, Renée Taylor, Rebecca Chiles, Paul Reubens, Emma Hinz, Charlotte Rampling, Ally Sheedy, Gaby Hoffmann, Rich Pecci, Carmen Marie Colon Mejia, Fernando Samalot, Meng Ai, Chris Marquette, Susan Pages
Studio IFC Films
MPAA rating R (Restricted)
Captions and subtitles English Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly Details
Format Amazon Video (streaming online video)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
A few years ago I watched this film at a local art house. A few days ago I was making coffee and it must have been the swirling motion in my cup (as I stirred in the cream and sugar) that hypnotized me, causing the resurfacing of a few repressed memories - namely from this film.

As I recall, there were about seven or eight other people in the theater, most of whom were sitting by themselves and probably not mentally prepared for the hour and a half long ride of horrifying abnormality and sheer discomfort that is typical of director Todd Solondz's films, which according to Wikipedia are inspired by his experiences growing up in New Jersey - and I BELIEVE IT, wholeheartedly. So, why did I give five stars to this film? Mainly because of the circumstances under which I watched it. As I mentioned, Solondz's films are abnormal and discomforting, which made watching this film amongst complete strangers in a dark theater and from the back row quite amusing. Like in true horror movie fashion it was not uncommon to see people sinking down into their chairs, letting out sharp gasps and sighs, covering their faces, and turning their heads disapprovingly from side to side. As for myself, I too was taken by surprise, especially when the young boy (Timmy) cries out "I hope I NEVER get molested!" At that point I pretty much lost control and had to gag myself with my coat because I didn't want to appear rude and insensitive towards the subject matter or attract the glaring faces of the combined seven or eight people in the audience. I think this movie really got the better of some people.

Without question, this is the work of Todd Solondz.
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Format: Blu-ray
Without a doubt, Todd Solondz's creepy, disturbing, and subversively hilarious masterpiece "Happiness" was my favorite film of 1998. Savage, but divisive, I've discovered through the years that the film tends to engender strong feelings of either hatred or of adoration with little middle ground. To be fair, with its mature themes and aggressive frankness, it may be one of the most squirm inducing comedies of all time. And yet this tale of three sisters and their immediate family also resonates with a certain amount of truth. The world is how we construct it but, often times, that construction is nothing more than an illusion. And those closest to us are either complicit in that deceit or are the only ones who can see through the cracks. A skewering of middle class ideals and insecurities, "Happiness" was a pitch perfect blend of the outrageous and the macabre.

When I heard that Solondz intended to revisit this masterpiece, casting new actors, it seemed like an inspired addition to his increasingly non-conformist resume. Shirley Henderson, Allison Janney and Ally Sheedy now inhabit the roles originated by Jane Adams, Cynthia Stevenson, and Lara Flynn Boyle respectively. All three do an excellent job of recapturing the essence of their character's neuroses--Sheedy, unfortunately, has more of a cameo but her scenes are dead-on hilarious. The film begins with an absolutely perfect scene between Henderson and her husband that mirrors the first scene from "Happiness" in a sublimely funny way. When we move on to Janney, a control freak desperately looking for love, I knew that Solondz had done it again. The primary plot points involve Henderson dealing with a past lover's suicide (Jon Lovitz's ghost interpreted by Paul Reubens--inspired!
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Format: DVD
Todd Solondz' "Happiness" is one of the most disturbing films I'd ever seen. It's also excellent. It explores the ickiest, most pathetic and repulsive parts of modern human life, and deftly combines tragedy with pitch-black humor. Over a decade later, Solondz clearly felt the need to revisit the characters from that film, hence this sequel "Life During Wartime". Instead of trying to recruit the original actors to reprise their roles, Solondz chose to completely recast them, allowing a new cast to breath life into these characters.

As much as I wanted to love this film, throughout it I couldn't shake the feeling of it being a somewhat unnecessary sequel. The plot of "Happiness" loosely revolved around the stories of three sisters, and despite the years that have gone by, the characters haven't really changed much. Joy is still wimpy, optimistic, and drawn to self-destructive, damaged men. Helen is still arrogant and entitled. The only character who seems at least somewhat different is Trish. In the first film, before discovering her husband's pedophilia, she was a smug control freak. Years later, the character reeks of desperation while trying to recreate the "normal" life for herself that she thought she once had.

The themes of "Life During Wartime" are also mostly the same as those of "Happiness": trauma, shame, guilt, disappointment, and the part family plays in all of these things. The new film differs only slightly from its predecessor by also exploring the theme (or maybe just the possibility) of redemption. This exploration is apparent in the storyline of Bill Maplewood, Trish's ex-husband, just released from prison.
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