by Greg Muskewitz
Siphoning off of his previous film, Todd Solondz divides this film into “Fiction” and “Non-Fiction.” The first segment has frustrated, pink-haired Selma Blair, opining over dumping her boyfriend (“I thought he’d be different — he’s got CP!”), or sleeping with her creative writing professor. The second segment features a disillusioned youth named “Scooby,” who is the focus of a documentary with morphing expectations and focuses.Neither story is connected to each other, though both concentrate on the odd ducks or typified “losers,” as with Solondz’s other films. Unfortunately, equal time is not spent on both halves, for the former is more like a quarter, and the latter, three. “Fiction” is the better defined of the two, but its summation still leaves one in want of more development or exploration — which is more than can be said for the second. The parodying and satirizing of writing and writers and their pretensions (“It reminded me a little bit of William Faulkner, only East Coast and disabled”) is hardly a unique thing to come across, but in a case such as in Storytelling, the perspective from which it is told is what makes it worthwhile and distinct. Still, where Solondz was going, I don’t know. The same can be said for the “Non-Fiction” moiety, only it is even less clear what Solondz’s aim is. He captures a portrait of a disenchanted teenager with particular prerequisites, but the type of character he chooses is so much less defined, unusual, original, etc. There’s even less room for sympathy, identification or like of these characters; though Solondz doles out animosity for certain characters’ actions or behavior in his previous films (and with this one), there is usually one character left that still has the room left for understanding. Maybe he’s trying to wipe away the idea of innocence from the human being altogether; a child’s naïveté and scheming, or a maid’s defensive denial is just as much of a “sin.” Without the “lovable loser,” so to say, the loser becomes an objectified loser, an affected loser, a poorer creation used only to go through the motions. And that is to say that the material, the form, the emphasis, is rechauffé. The film elicits a mixed reaction, but the fact that it did still elicit a reaction, is saying something — even if the rest is not.
With Mark Webber, John Goodman, Julie Hagerty, Paul Giamatti, Leo Fitzpatrick, Robert Wisdom, Lupe Ontiveros, Jonathan Osser, Noah Fleiss, Franka Potente, and a cameo by Conan O’Brien and Mike Schank.[Worth-seeing.]
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=5353&reviewer=172
originally posted: 10/06/02 12:34:43