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Storytelling (2001)

  Directed by: Todd Solondz
Starring: Selma Blair, Leo Fitzpatrick, Paul Giamatti, John Goodman, Mark Webber, Robert Wisdom
Links: Storytelling on the IMDb, Official site, Buy on Video, Buy on DVD, Buy the Soundtrack
Genre: Drama

This movie gets: 5.00 (1 rating) Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

"Solondz does Stereotypes" - a review by pearly

Okay, I admit it. I don't know what the message was supposed to be in Todd Solondz's Storytelling. I had high hopes for this film; I guess I assumed that it would be, well, if not good, at least "pushing the boundaries", as his other work (Happiness (1998) and Welcome to the Dollhouse (1995)) did. And I suppose that by having a film containing a racist girl, a homophobic father, a classist boy, and basically a cast of characters in which there isn't a single likeable person in the bunch, you'd assume that there must be some boundary-pushing happening. But I just didn't see it.

The movie is split into two sections. Not one intertwined with the other, as would be the 'cool' thing to do, but simply one story followed by another, with 'chapter' style titles between the two (I guess this is in keeping with the movie's title). Part 1: "fiction" follows Vi (Selma Blair), a girl who uses her own life experiences as inspiration for her creative writing class. Part 2: "nonfiction" follows Scooby (Mark Webber), a boy who is being followed by a documentary filmmaker focusing on his attempts to get into college.

Vi is a cringeworthy character. After her cerebral palsy afflicted boyfriend splits up with her ("I thought he'd be different, because he has CP!"), Vi decides to have a one-night stand with her African-American tutor, and it appears that she is doing this purely so that she can cross another "type" of person off a list she is keeping. Conversely, Scooby is not particularly unlikeable; he's just lazy and apathetic - a true Gen Xer. But don't worry, the rest of his family are quite easy to hate - especially his youngest brother who has no respect for the house's maid Consuelo.

It's not as though I expected to be walking into the feel-good movie of the year. But I expected to feel something, and if it was shock that Solondz was trying to make me feel, well, I've heard it all before. I'm a Gen Xer, remember? So, what did I like about the film? Well, I enjoyed the soundtrack, with new songs by Belle and Sebastian. I liked the idea of the film's storyline being critiqued by its characters (after having read their stories, the rest of the creative writing class give their thoughts). But in a film where the characters are so easy to hate, I merely disliked them.

pearly gives this movie 5 out of 10.
Review last updated on Mon 27 May 2002

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