98 minutes| U.S.A.| 2009| Colour| D-Cinema Notes by Trevor Johnston

This film was released 23rd April 2010 and is no longer screening.

Eleven years on from that masterpiece of comic unease Happiness, Todd Solondz revisits the same characters repairing their shattered lives in his latest rueful report on American manners and mores.

Life During Wartime is no conventional sequel, since a fresh cast takes over, with Ciaran Hinds, for instance, in the key role as the convicted paedophile earlier played by Dylan Baker. Hinds’ memorable contribution as the shell of a man seeking to reconnect with his family on release from prison sets the tone for the new film’s examination of the grey area between forgiveness and forgetting. Elsewhere his ex-wife Allison Janney finds new romance, while her sister Shirley Henderson remains haunted by the restless spirit of her dead suitor – a startlingly affecting Paul Reubens, probably better known as disgraced children’s entertainer Pee-Wee Herman. Solondz’s ability to combine palpable pain and yearning with effectively toe-curling humour remains utterly singular, yet his compassion is never in doubt.

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