login | register |



Year: 1998 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: Unknown 
Certificate: BBFC 18 Cert – Not suitable for under 18s 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  

So where exactly is happiness in this film? The subject matter is definitely not happy, nor is it really very pleasant or socially acceptable. But if you can put your distaste on hold for a couple of hours and view this as art not entertainment....

The film, winner of the International Critics’ Prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, follows the lives of seemingly ordinary suburban people, who have slightly more about them than is initially apparent. Trish (Stevenson ) is married to a psychiatrist who becomes rather too interested in his young son’s male friends, entertains fantasies about committing mass murder in the park, and ‘pleasures’ himself over magazines aimed at teenagers. Her sister is the focus of the unwanted attention of one of her husband’s patients, whilst Allen, their neighbour, makes obscene phone calls. Yet this is supposed to be a comedy, and in fact manages to be one, somehow making humour out of decidedly unpleasant subject matter without breaking the boundaries of good taste.

Todd Solondz told TIME magazine, “I realize some of the material is shocking, but it’s out there in the media every day. Celebrities are always talking about their own abuse. TV news programs discuss the atrocities of children being killed or raped. It has a freak-show quality; it’s titillating. Still, I don’t think anybody could use the word titillating about my movie. I hope people see there’s a certain...integrity to the proceedings.”

As he says, it is about time somebody dealt with these real-life issues up-front. It is also time for American movies to break away from the Hollywood tradition, where plots are much the same and everyone lives happily ever after. Solondz has avoided the trap which could so easily have ruined his masterpiece. His characters are not portrayed as monsters, the bane of civilised society, nor does he simply use them as tools to shock the audience. He does not deal in the polarities so often used by the media when commenting on such issues, but focuses on his characters as people; intent on showing that ‘normal’ people can be bad, and even paedophiles can have good features. You don’t have to accept the points he is making, but at least come to see how he explores the issues.

Mia Wallace

More Information | Back to Previous Schedule | This Season  |  BBFC Classification Guidelines

Screenings of this film:

1999/2000 Autumn Term (35mm)