Palindromes | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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No comic filmmaker in America works as hard as Todd Solondz to ride the knife's edge between humor and pathos: his characters are lonely, unhappy, and helplessly cruel to one another, but intimate encounters between them often crash past the barriers of misery into hilarity. This is his first movie since Storytelling tanked at the box office in 2002, and it's almost defiantly noncommercial. A young girl gets pregnant, submits to her mother's demand for an abortion, runs away from home, and winds up with a born-again couple who tend to a blissfully happy adopted family of deformed and handicapped children. Both pro-lifers and pro-choicers are treated as objects of horror, and, just to make the movie a little more marketable, Solondz has divided the lead role among eight actors, ranging from a six-year-old black girl to a preteen white boy to Jennifer Jason Leigh. Palindromes is sadder, more poignant, and more demanding than anything Solondz has ever done. With Ellen Barkin, Stephen Adly Guirgis, Richard Masur, Debra Monk, and Sharon Wilkins. 100 min. Reviewed this week in Section 1. Century 12 and CineArts 6, Landmark's Century Centre.

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