Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.
USA, 2011. Double Hope Films. Screenplay by Todd Solondz. Cinematography by Andrij Parekh. Produced by Ted Hope, Derrick Tseng. Production Design by Alex DiGerlando. Costume Design by Kurt and Bart. Film Editing by Kevin Messman. Toronto International Film Festival 2011. Venice Film Festival 2011.
Rotund underachiever Jordan Gelber meets moody Selma Blair at a wedding and decides that she is his opportunity to move on from his parents’ home and get married. Currently, his lifestyle of driving a big hummer in the suburbs and collecting action figures is constantly put down by the fact that his handsome doctor brother (Justin Bartha) is so much more successful than he is. Blair, meanwhile, only seems to come alive when she’s with her ex-boyfriend but doesn’t resist getting closer with our hero, while his parents (Mia Farrow, Christopher Walken) just want him to be happy. Factor in some dream sequences in which bookish secretary Donna Murphy turns into a dangerous femme fatale and you have one of the strangest combinations of harsh realities and light capriciousness that director Todd Solondz has ever compiled. There’s an uneven tone to it that doesn’t sit comfortably, and Gelber’s non-charismatic performance does not help to smooth things over, but even though Solondz is coasting solely on the surface the film does have its moments to recommend it. Blair and Murphy are mesmerizing, and the humour is always effective even if the majestic piercings into human frailty that made Happiness such a masterpiece are nowhere to be seen here.