© Alamode Film

Palindrome (Palindromes)
U.S.A. 2004

Opening 14 Apr 2005

Directed by: Todd Solondz
Writing credits: Todd Solondz
Principal actors: Ellen Barkin, Richard Masur, Matthew Faber, Angela Pietropinto, Bill Buell

Director Todd Solondz is true to his subject matter: women and girls struggling to find their niche in their own families as well as in the world, as shown in his films Welcome to the Doll House and Happiness. In Palindromes we have young, pregnant Aviva whose parents insist on her having an abortion. She still wishes for a baby, and the rest of the film follows her pursuit towards this goal. It takes her from New Jersey to Ohio to Kansas and back. This is where the film loses me. “Aviva” number one becomes number two and so on until we have eight different Avivas: old, young, thin, fat, white, black, male, and female named Dawn, Judah, Henry, Huckleberry, Henrietta, Mama Sunshine, Bob, and Mark. I never found my way out of this confusion. The two stars are for the excellent acting of Ellen Barkin, the original Aviva’s mother, and Sharon Wilkins as Mama Sunshine, the fundamentalist mother of a house full of abandoned handicapped waifs. The word “Aviva” is a palindrome, i.e., a word that is the same backwards and forwards. Perhaps Aviva tries to find herself coming and going, backwards and forwards, like a palindrome. It’s beyond me, which is too bad, because the individual episodes and characters are interesting in their own right; they just don’t make a whole. (Becky Tan)

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