Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.
USA, 2004. Extra Large Pictures. Screenplay by Todd Solondz. Cinematography by Tom Richmond. Produced by Mike S. Ryan, Derrick Tseng. Music by Nathan Larson. Production Design by David Doernberg. Costume Design by Victoria Farrell. Film Editing by Mollie Goldstein, Kevin Messman. Independent Spirit Awards 2005. Toronto International Film Festival 2004. Venice Film Festival 2004.
A twelve year-old girl announces that the thing she wants most in life is to have a baby. Immediately getting herself pregnant with the first willing boy, her mother (Ellen Barkin in her best performance in years) forces her to get an abortion which then prompts the young woman to run away. She finds haven in a group home run by a staunch Christian pro-lifer (Debra Monk) who takes care of a Mia Farrow-sized assortment of abandoned children that she has turned into Jesus freaks just like herself (and you’ve really never seen anything quite as outrageous as their musical performances, I promise you that). What’s interesting in this immensely curious film is that director Todd Solondz has cast a different actress to play the lead character in every significant chapter of her journey. The women range from actual twelve year-old girls to adults, women of more than one ethnicity and in one case, Jennifer Jason Leigh, but Solondz’s filmmaking skill never allows it get too confusing, nor does it make the story difficult to follow. Thought-provoking and touching, the film is sometimes very powerful for how it presents such an objective point of view on its themes, and other times just seems too vague. Either way, for strong character development and original filmmaking, Solondz is still one of the most exciting directors out there.