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Palindromes Review

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Eleven year-old Aviva yearns to become pregnant, but when she achieves her aim a botched abortion leaves her infertile. Running away from home, she begins a quest to conceive again.

★★★★★

Todd Solondz, for all his pretence to be a connoisseur of low culture, obviously doesn't watch enough US soaps. If he did, Palindromes' central gimmick - having the role of an 11 year-old girl played by eight actors, including two women and a boy - wouldn't have seemed so novel. After all, shows such as General Hospital are replete with characters who vanish only to be replaced with entirely different actors, occasionally in the same episode.

The result of his ill-conceived experiment is to leave you grasping for a purpose to the tale. It's essentially an odyssey along which Aviva, while questing for someone to impregnate her, meets a gallery of grotesques, including a truck driver who frustrates her ambitions by insisting upon anal sex, a horny teen whose technique leaves much to be desired and, most memorably, the Sunshine family, a ghastly brood of all-singing, all-dancing freak-kiddies headed by a murderous anti-abortion patriarch and his nauseatingly cheerful wife.

Solondz's problem is that, while much of this is in outrageously bad taste (and very occasionally raises a laugh), his point remains obscure. The claim is that it is about the palindromic nature of the human journey, one which ends up where it began. Well possibly, but this diversion isn't really one worth starting.

It’s occasionally sick-funny, but large swathes are unforgivably dull. A disappointment from a director who once held great promise.