For Todd Solondz, the locus of choice is the suburban sprawl of New Jersey, which he so memorably labelled a “state of irony” in 1998′s his best-known work Happiness. His latest film follows Abe, a schlubby Jewish man in his 30s who still lives at home with his parents, played in a genius spot of casting by Christopher Walken and Mia Farrow. At a wedding, Abe (Jordan Gelber) meets the beautiful but heavily medicated Miranda (Selma Blair), who also still lives at home, and the two begin a painful romance under the director’s merciless, absurdist eye.
It’s a film about loneliness and longing, where a kiss is followed by the breathy exclamation: “Oh my God, that wasn’t horrible.” Solondz’s world of freeways, failures and fuck-ups is cruel – even the decor can mock viciously – but in his bitter humour I always find a twitch on the moral compass.
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