R | 1h 27min | Comedy, Drama, Romance | 11 April 2002 (Hungary)
Storytelling is comprised of two separate stories set against the sadly comical terrain of college and high school, past and present. Following the paths of its young hopeful/ troubled characters, it explores issues of sex, race, celebrity and exploitation
Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)
Rated R for strong sexual content, language and some drug use
“Storytelling” is interesting, dramatically effective and well-acted. It just left me wanting more. Those who were heavily turned off by Solondz’s last effort, “Happiness,” (a film I still regard as brilliant) might not be as turned off by “Storytelling.” Other than an explicit anal sex scene (which is blocked off by a cheesy red box in the R-rated version), the material is quite innocuous. But “Happiness” not only had a provocative edge; it also had closure. It didn’t leave any loose ends, having the audience wonder, “What’s next?” This movie has Solondz’s provocative edge, but it needs closure.
The characters and situations are colorful. I’ve always loved the director’s use of brutal honesty in telling stories of otherwise straitlaced white collar suburbanites with skeletons in their closets. His films possess a unique realism that we almost never see in today’s movies.
Selma Blair gives her best performance up to date, her first character role. There’s a greatly powerful scene in which she’s taunted, by her fellow classmates, about her short story which was based on a true situation between her and her tough-as-nails professor. John Goodman is terrific as the strict, suburban dad who simply wants his family to be normal. Leo Fitzpatrick is great as Blair’s lonely boyfriend with a speech impediment. After seeing him in that awful movie, “Kids,” it was great to see him in a decent role in a halfway decent movie. I’m guessing he really does have a speech impediment. The little boy got annoying at times. Though I know it was part of his character, there were times where I just wanted to put my foot through the TV when he would go on rambling. And the underrated Paul Giamatti delivers a fine, low-key performance as a geeky documentary filmmaker.
I wouldn’t say this movie is anywhere near terrible, and I still look forward to Todd Solondz’s next film, but it just needed more. It would’ve made a great television pilot, but for a film it would need a stronger narrative. In the second story, “Nonfiction,” we get to know a fair deal about these characters, their backgrounds and their aftermaths. However, in the first story, “Fiction,” I felt there could’ve been a lot more background to the characters and what happened after Vi’s dreams were crushed after her fellow students gave their hypocritical opinions on her short story? As I said before, it’s an interesting film, but not altogether satisfying.
Director: Todd Solondz
Writer: Todd Solondz
Stars: Selma Blair, Leo Fitzpatrick, Robert Wisdom
Language: English | Spanish
Release Date: 11 April 2002 (Hungary)
Also Known As: Untitled Todd Solondz Project
Filming Locations: New Jersey, USA