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Thirteen-year-old Aviva Victor (played by eight different actors, including Jennifer Jason Leigh) desperately wants to become a mom, but her plan is thwarted by her sensible parents (Ellen Barkin and Richard Masur), so she runs away, determined to get pregnant one way or another. Soon she finds herself lost in another world—a less sensible one, perhaps, but one pregnant itself with all sorts of strange possibilities. Written and directed by Todd Solondz (Storytelling, Happiness, Welcome to the Dollhouse), who's made his reputation by creating a gallery of suburban icons of ostracism.
 

 Palindromes

HIGHLIGHT OF THE 2001 CREATIONIST SCIENCE FAIR:

2nd Place, Middle School Level:
“Women Were Designed For Homemaking”
Jonathan Goode (grade 7) applied findings from many fields of science to support his conclusion that God designed women for homemaking: physics shows that women have a lower center of gravity than men, making them more suited to carrying groceries and laundry baskets; social sciences show that the wages for women workers are lower than for normal workers, meaning that they are unable to work as well and thus earn equal pay.

A FEW FACTOIDS:

According to a recent Gallup poll,
46% of Americans describe themselves as evangelical or born-again Christians.
48% of Americans believe in creationism.
68% of Americans believe in the devil.
77% of Americans believe in angels.

* * *

One of the first questions people tend to ask me after seeing Palindromes is, “Why did you cast so many actors in the role of Aviva, instead of just one?” I suppose if I hadn’t made this movie it would be my first question as well. Certainly, though I’m not the first director to consider this sort of casting approach (see Buñuel’s That Obscure Object of Desire), it’s possible I’m the first to put this somewhat radical conceit so front and center. But in any case, I have to confess that the source of this casting notion is probably not quite so “obscure.” For I remember when they changed actors playing Darrin on TV’s Bewitched: one season it was one actor, the next another, and it didn’t seem to faze Samantha at all. TV often pulls this trick, and my first impulse used to be, “Don’t you see that you’re talking to someone different?” Now when it happens I just think it makes the show more interesting and lively. Really, it should happen more often. Sometimes, when casting a film, I find myself wishing I could combine qualities of several actors into a single actor—almost wishing I could cast all of the actors I like. I don’t imagine my concept is going to catch on in the movies, though, if for no other reason than the fact that movie stars tend to like to play lots of characters in a single movie (see Kind Hearts and Coronets, Dr. Strangelove, Angels in America, et al), but, I would guess, are unlikely to want to divide their screen time with another actor in the same role (unless it’s a body double or stunt person).

I still haven’t explained the why of this decision, beyond saying I just think it’s a neat idea. Well, yes, it does serve a metaphorical function, but I don’t imagine many people want to read about that. Explanations are never much fun (and Mark Wiener does enough explaining as it is). All I can hope for is that you not even try to analyze things, and just sit back and “enjoy” it for what it is.