I saw Todd Solondz’s film Palindromes with Big Mama three days ago, and still find myself haunted by what the message seemed to be.
If you haven’t seen it yet, and still want to, you probably shouldn’t read any further.
Still with me? Ok. The idea behind the title of the film being ‘Palindromes’ was that we are all essentially palindromes – the same at the end as we are in the beginning, so there is no point in trying to change, because you are who you are. This is spelled out in a very well written speech from Dawn Wiener’s brother which a lot of critics either slept through, or forgot about, since many seemed to have no idea why the movie was titled what it was. That’s ‘experts’ for you.
The speech was extremely well written and acted, but I was so repulsed by the sentiment that it effectively knocked me out of the narrative of the story, and I never really got back in. Fortunately, the scene is well within the final fifteen minutes, so it didn’t ruin the entire movie for me.
Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t go into a Todd Solondz movie expecting a pick-me-up, I’ve seen all his work, so I knew what to expect for the most part. I can deal with sympathetic pedophiles, murderers, racists, rapists, manipulating children, but for some reason those five minutes toward the end of Palindromes truly disturbed me.
I believe it is a film maker’s duty as an artist to express his or her views completely unbridled, but it certainly doesn’t mean that I have to agree with them, or think that they are wise. I do not think Solondz’s view is correct, or wise; I think it is lazy and somewhat misanthropic. It seems to me that he is giving himself, and everyone else, an easy out from the personal responsibility for attempting to better themselves.
I believe people can change themselves, from bottom to top. Scientists have said that the human body completely regenerates all its cells every seven years, so most of us have already been a couple people already; yet somehow it’s impossible to change your personality, which you control completely? I don’t think so.
Todd, you just ain’t trying hard enough. Or, you need to find a better teacher . . . maybe I can introduce you to this radical woman I know named Eris?