Updated: Todd Solondz’s “Life During Wartime” — playing at the New York Film Festival this weekend — may be the most thorough, penetrating and profound accounting of post-9/11 America and the nation’s utter and dysfunctional lack of compassion. (Its inital title was simply “Forgiveness.”) After watching the film for the first time yesterday, its haunting images and lingering sadness continue to stay with me. Actors Charlotte Rampling, Allison Janey, Paul Reubens, Ciarin Hinds and young actor Dylan Snyder all deliver individual moments of intensity and pain that I won’t soon forget.
But the reason I’m writing about the film here and now is not specifically to champion it — though I’m happy to, as well — but as a sort of corrective to a recent post that my fellow indieWIRE blogger Anne Thompson wrote about the film’s financiers Werc Werk Works.
It’s hard to sit by and read a glowing account of the new WWW producers (Christine Walker and Elizabeth Redleaf) and their supportive relationship of Solondz’s art-form when the true picture of that relationship is far more ambiguous and possibly contentious. Some facts: While tracking the project’s genesis over the years, I always found it curious that longtime Solondz supporter Ted Hope (a producer on “Happiness”) withdrew from the film. Then when the movie appeared at film festivals, why was it that Solondz and
Walker/Redleaf never shared the same space: Solondz went to Venice; Walker/Redleaf did not. Walker/Redleaf went to Toronto; Solondz did not. In New York, Walker was present; Solondz appeared, but only via Skype. And what ever happened to the original, much talked-about cast member Paris Hilton? None of these facts, in and of themselves, suggest much discord, and making a movie with Solondz can’t be easy. But I have a feeling that some day somewhere it will be revealed that WWW isn’t necessarily the financing/producing godsend in these difficult times that they might first appear. Money, unfortunately, always comes with strings attached.