Telluride Film Festival: "Life During Wartime"

IMG_5356 Director Todd Solondz, whose "Life During Wartime," had its North American premiere this past weekend at the Telluride Film Festival, is distinguished as an independent filmmaker who dares to go places others fear to tread. Solondz takes on universal themes – "Life During Wartime" is about forgiving and forgetting –  in character-driven stories whose denizens are quirky in the extreme. In high relief under bright lights, these eccentric individuals become Everyman, warts and all. The character actors in "Life During Wartime," both young and old, are fearless, giving flawless performances of very flawed individuals.

Ten years have passed since a series of catastrophic revelations shattered the Jordan family. Now ghosts circle and loom, trouble and console as Joy (Shirley Henderson) discovers her husband Allen (Michael Kenneth Williams) is not completely cured of his "afliction." Seeking solace from her mother and siblings, Joy is pursued by visions of her former suitor Andy (Paul Reubens), now deceased, but nonetheless unrelenting in his efforts to win her heart.

Joy's family members have troubles of their own. Sister Trish (Allison Janney) is rebuilding a life with her children after learning her psychiatrist husband was abusing young boys. She meets Harvey (Michael Lerner), a divorced man about to retire, and hopes a new male presence will help staunch the open wounds in her family. The third sister, Helen, (Ally Sheedy) feels victimized by both her family and her Hollywood success.

The iconic Charlotte Rampling is Jacqueline, a needy older woman looking for love in all the wrong places.

"Life During Wartime" is the first major film to be released by a relatively new production company/quasi studio, Werc Werk Works, founded in Minneapolis in 2008 by partners Elizabeth Redleaf and Christine Kunewa Walker.

Elizabeth Redleaf is a part-time Telluride local, seen here surrounded by her friends, in town for the Telluride Film Festival, to help celebrate. They are David Johnson, Jane Tilka, Debra Cohen, Dan Avchen, and Craig Fields.

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