Pointing filmmaker Todd Solondz back toward the salad days of his Welcome to the Dollhouse and Happiness, Palindromes (which was previously shown at this year's Florida Film Festival) paints a fearlessly perverse portrait of a 12-year-old girl who desperately wants to get pregnant. Why? Because babies are cute, silly. Nobody captures such all-American delusion better than Solondz, and here he's at the top of his dark-humored game, making us simultaneously shudder and guffaw as his tragically misguided central character runs away from home to fulfill her lunatic heart's desire, only to encounter a nightmare landscape where even the adults are overwhelmed by the subject of nurturance. Solondz's masterstroke is to have the girl, Aviva, played by eight different actors of varying ages, sizes and races a move that should decimate the film's narrative coherence but instead ups its allegorical value immeasurably. By showing his lead character as endlessly permutable, he makes the point that she could be anybody's daughter, sister or lover or, God forbid, their mother.
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