Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman Revealed
The Inside Story Of Sideshow Collectibles
Guardians Of The Galaxy Review
Nick Frost:
My Movie Life

The World's End star's pick of the flicks
Subscribe: 6 Issues For £15!
Subscribe today and save 37% off the cover price!
Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
15
Cast
Shirley Henderson
Michael K. Williams
Allison Janney
Michael Lerner
Paul Reubens
Charlotte Rampling
Ally Sheedy
Ciarán Hinds.
Directors
Todd Solondz.
Screenwriters
Running Time
97 minutes

LATEST DVD REVIEWS
Nashville
5 Star Empire Rating
Hustler, The
5 Star Empire Rating
Hercules
3 Star Empire Rating
Boy Meets Girl
1 Star Empire Rating
Hart's War
3 Star Empire Rating



5 STAR REVIEWS
Nashville
5 Star Empire Rating
Hustler, The
5 Star Empire Rating
French Connection, The
5 Star Empire Rating
Blazing Saddles
5 Star Empire Rating
Black Narcissus
5 Star Empire Rating

Life During Wartime
Todd Solondz drops a bomb


submit to reddit


Plot
In the shadow of war, three sisters search for happiness. Trish (Janney) is hoping for a new life with Harvey (Lerner), when her paedophile husband, Bill (Hinds), is released from prison; Joy (Henderson), is haunted by ghosts of her dead lovers; while Helen (Sheedy) lives a life of empty Hollywood wealth with her lover, Keanu.


Review
Life During Wartime
What exactly is Todd Solondz playing at? With early releases like Welcome To The Dollhouse and Happiness, the director drew on his own New Jersey upbringing to craft acerbic social comedies that gave voice to America’s forgotten suburbanites, using our emotional involvement with these lonely, isolated lives to slip in divisive truths of modern life. But that clearly wasn’t enough. Perhaps believing such character empathy was a bourgeois dishonesty, Solondz piled on the ‘challenging’ subject-matter (abortion, paedophilia, the Holocaust) for an alienating brace of Brechtian films that both referenced their own fiction (2001’s Storytelling) or, as with 2004’s Palindromes, elected to cast actresses of different ages, shapes and races to play the lead role (a 13 year-old girl looking to lose her virginity).

Those weary of Solondz’s listless acts of provocation might perk at the news that Life During Wartime sees the return of the characters from Happiness. But, in a final attempt to strip out audience goodwill, he’s completely recast the movie, relocating part of the action to South Florida, but divesting the film of anything approaching sunlight. Solondz’s point seems to be that trauma can lead people to change identity but without back story or naturalism, it’s hard to care about these remoulds.

The West Wing’s Alison Janney puts in an on-edge performance, dealing with a son (Dylan Snyder) entering adulthood with questions about his paedophile dad, and Ciarán Hinds lends a defeated gravitas to the role of said father, but otherwise we’re left with a series of stilted drama workshops where each actor emotes their knotty dilemma with a stylised side-order of crying and the requisite deadpanning of uncomfortable dialogue (“Mom! Was dad really sent to jail for raping young boys?”). Such unnaturalism results in a cold audience response and, worse still, cold laughter. When Solondz started out, you felt he genuinely cared about these lonely suburban souls. Now that he’s stopped caring, why should we?


Extras

Life During Wartime Life During Wartime
Released: 12 July 2010
Three music videos, director’s commentary and stuntwork doc.


Verdict
Possibly a brave and interesting triumph for its director, but definitely a cold-eyed heartless bore for his audience.


Reviewed by Andrew Male

Write Your Review
To write your review please login or register.

Your Reviews

Average user rating for Life During Wartime
Empire Star Rating

Poor

I've seen some really terrible films in my life but this is truely awful. Not once could I feel anything for these characters, there was no emotion and it left me very cold. This is not entertainment or a masterpiece, it's a pretty poor film that takes actors in a lack of storyline and bore everyone to death. Avoid it. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by joanna likes films at 13:27, 13 July 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Life During Wartime

Should say, enjoyed it at the LFF last year, a solid 9/10. ... More

Posted by Ethanial at 21:34, 26 April 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Life During Wartime

Apart from Paladromes I'm a big Soludtz fan, Storytelling was a bit of a mixed experience, however Happiness was a masterpiece and Welcome to the Dollshouse very good too.  Not totally convinced of the point of this revisting, but the cast are brillant and theres enough talent in the director to make it intresting at least. ... More

Posted by ElephantBoy at 23:43, 25 April 2010 | Report This Post


SPECIAL FEATURE
The 301 Greatest Movies Of All Time EMPIRE READERS' POLL: THE 301 GREATEST MOVIES OF ALL TIME
You turned out in your hundreds and thousands, and here are the results... Browse the full list


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
Empire's The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies Covers Are Here
Bard The Bowman or Smaug The Magnificent?

A Pocket Guide To Game Of Thrones’ New Cast Members
Know your Doran Martell from your Nym Sand

Directors Special: Peter Hyams Goes Film-By-Film
The veteran director on Timecop, Outland, 2010, Enemies Closer and more

Explore The Massive Avengers: Age Of Ultron Comic-Con Banner
Use our interactive gadget to zoom in on Hulk, Iron Man, The Vision and co. in action

The 10 Biggest Stories Of Comic-Con 2014
The shocks to emerge from this year's geek-fest. Avengers! Max! Mann!

Models Inc.: The Inside Story Of Sideshow Collectibles
How the likes of Batman, Superman and Luke Skywalker become collectible figures

The Empire Podcast #121: Brett Ratner Talks Hercules On This Week's Show
Plus The Purge: Anarchy producer Jason Blum pops in to talk horror

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get The 301 Greatest Movies Of All Time Subscribers' Cover

Subscribe today and get the cover and 3 issues for only £10!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save maney on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 6 issues of Empire for just £15!
Get the world's greatest movie magazine delivered straight to your door! Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)