"Happiness" sequel revisits family misery

Thu Sep 3, 2009 1:04pm EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

VENICE (Reuters) - U.S. director Todd Solondz has revisited the disturbing world of his acclaimed 1998 film "Happiness," although the last thing the characters of "Life During Wartime" are is happy.

The movie, in competition at the Venice film festival, again centers around the Jordan family, although Solondz uses a different set of actors and bases the parts they play only loosely on the originals.

Like Happiness, Life During Wartime is a political and social satire that tackles tough, taboo topics like pedophilia, incest and suicide.

"I guess it's something of a post traumatic stress disorder kind of movie genre," Solondz told reporters.

"I didn't ever think I'd go back to them. They weren't haunting me. Once I started writing I think what I needed was to feel free to play with these characters in any way I wanted to."

In Life During Wartime, Joy, played by Scottish actress Shirley Henderson, discovers her troubled husband Allen is still making obscene phone calls, while sister Trish seeks to rebuild her life after discovering husband Bill abused young boys.

All the while their younger son Timmy tries to make sense of his family's dark past, and delivers the film's final lines: "I don't care about freedom and democracy. I just want my father."


<p>U.S. director Todd Solondz attends the "Life During Wartime" photocall at the Sala Grande during at the 66th Venice Film Festival September 3, 2009. REUTERSAlessandro Bianchi</p>