- 1 hr 40 min
Palindromes is a darkly comedic and thought-provoking film from the mind of director Todd Solondz. The movie, released in 2004, takes a look at issues of identity, choice, and morality through the eyes of its protagonist, a young girl named Aviva. Aviva is a 13-year-old girl who longs for a baby more than anything in the world. After her first sexual encounter with a family friend ends in a pregnancy that is quickly ended with a secret abortion, Aviva runs away from home and embarks on a journey to find a new family to belong to. Along the way, she meets a variety of characters who challenge her beliefs and values, including a born-again Christian family who take her in, a family of liberals who want to adopt her, and a group of anti-abortion extremists who advocate for the sanctity of life at any cost. Throughout the film, viewers are confronted with uncomfortable truths about the complexities of choice, especially when it comes to abortion. Solondz offers no easy answers or moralizing, instead presenting a series of characters who struggle to reconcile their beliefs with the realities of their own lives. Over the course of the film, Aviva transforms from a naive, innocent girl to a more self-aware and resilient young woman, finding her own voice along the way. One of the most striking aspects of Palindromes is its structure, which features a constantly changing cast of actors playing the same character, Aviva. At various points in the film, Aviva is played by Jennifer Jason Leigh, Ellen Barkin, and several other actors who vary in age, gender, and physical appearance. This technique serves to underscore the film's exploration of identity and the way that our sense of self can evolve over time. It also has the effect of making Aviva seem simultaneously like a unique, individual character and a stand-in for every young girl who has ever struggled to figure out who she is in the world. Palindromes is not an easy or comfortable film to watch, but it is a compelling and ultimately rewarding one. Solondz has crafted a film that refuses to simplify complex issues or offer neat solutions, instead inviting viewers to grapple with the messiness and contradictions of life. The performances are uniformly excellent, with Jennifer Jason Leigh doing particularly impressive work in the central role of Aviva. The film's use of music, including a haunting rendition of the children's song "Jesus Loves the Little Children," and its colorful, almost surreal visuals also contribute to its unsettling, powerful atmosphere. While Palindromes may not be for everyone, for those willing to dive into its thorny themes and unconventional structure, it offers a rich, resonant cinematic experience. It is a film that defies easy categorization or simple summation, but one that will stick with viewers long after it ends.