New Internationalist

Palindromes

June 2005

Aviva is 12 and wants a baby – someone who’ll always love her. She has sex with the son of family friends and becomes pregnant. At her mom’s insistence she has an abortion and soon after runs away. She turns up at the home of Mama and Papa Sunshine, fundamentalist Christians with a huge adopted family of unwanted and disabled children. Aviva finds love.

Director Solondz’s earlier films Welcome to the Dollhouse and Happiness are funny, hardhitting satires on Middle America. Palindromes is a simpler, bleaker story, and perplexing – Solondz casts eight different children and adults as Aviva. Although tricksy, even weird, it works – the different actors reflect changes in Aviva. Abandoned after a sexual encounter, gawky white teenager Aviva becomes an adult African American woman – she’s older, wiser, more mature.

In the final scene, a lonely nerdy character, who looks remarkably like Solondz, lectures Aviva that people are programmed by genes and chance and they don’t change. The film’s title suggests this – a palindrome reads the same when read normally or backwards, like ‘Aviva’. So is Solondz saying people are the same however we look at them, that fundamentally they don’t change?

Aviva certainly ends up where she started, living at home with her comfortable, status-conscious family – and seeing the boy who made her pregnant. He now calls himself Otto – another palindrome. Yet Solondz casts 30-something Jennifer Jason Leigh, who’s been round the block a few times, as the final Aviva. Leigh’s presence suggests she’s bigger than suburban consumerism or desperate Christianity. Palindromes doesn’t offer Aviva much of a choice, but it’s grimly entertaining, intriguing, and challenging.

Todd Solondz's latest: tricksy and weird but it works.

This column was published in the June 2005 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

Comments on Palindromes

Leave your comment







 

  • Maximum characters allowed: 5000
  • Simple HTML allowed: bold, italic, and links

Registration is quick and easy. Plus you won’t have to re-type the blurry words to comment!
Register | Login

...And all is quiet.

Subscribe to Comments for this articleArticle Comment Feed RSS 2.0

Guidelines: Please be respectful of others when posting your reply.

Palindromes Fact File
Product information writtend and directed by Todd Solondz
Star rating4

Get our free fortnightly eNews

Multimedia

Videos from visionOntv's globalviews channel.

Related articles

Recently in Film

All Film

Popular tags

All tags

This article was originally published in issue 379

New Internationalist Magazine issue 379
Issue 379

More articles from this issue

  • Introduction

    June 1, 2005

    Introducing nurse Nancy Wambui Itotia, her dilemma – and her country's. Vanessa Baird reports.

  • Hope FM

    June 1, 2005

    To Kenya with Nancy to see what she has left behind – and the effect that the money she sends home has on her family.

  • The Neocons

    June 1, 2005

    George W Bush goes for broke with his neocon appointees to the World Bank, the UN and UNICEF.

New Internationalist Magazine Issue 436

If you would like to know something about what's actually going on, rather than what people would like you to think was going on, then read the New Internationalist.

– Emma Thompson –

A subscription to suit you

Save money with a digital subscription. Give a gift subscription that will last all year. Or get yourself a free trial to New Internationalist. See our choice of offers.

Subscribe