Storytelling

Film

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Time Out says

Two typically dystopian tales (rumour has it a third was dropped): the shorter 'Fiction' concerns college kids in a creative writing class taught by a black Pulitzer Prize-winner who holds back neither from trashing their efforts, nor from seducing his students; 'Nonfiction' sees a nerdy loser attempt to get ahead by making a documentary about his former high school, focusing on the dim, TV- obsessed, terminal slacker son of a risibly straitlaced family. Cruelty, misery, stupidity and loneliness are the common currency, but the impression of déjà vu is compounded by the fact that the film's seldom as funny, moving or insightful as Solondz's earlier work, while hints of self-justification add to the air of misanthropic self-pity. Audacious, intriguing, peppered with good moments, but disappointing.
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Release details

UK release:

2001

Duration:

87 mins

Cast and crew

Director:

Todd Solondz

Cast:

Paul Giamatti, Robert Wisdom, Mark Webber, Jonathan Osser, Lupe Ontiveros, John Goodman, Selma Blair

Music:

Nathan Larson

Production Designer:

James Chinlund

Editor:

Alan Oxman

Cinematography:

Frederick Elmes

Screenwriter:

Todd Solondz

Producer:

Christine Vachon, Ted Hope

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George Marshall

Solodz is always entertaining and full of ideas. The first story in particular has a glorious idea at its core: that a student could take her story of sex with a tutor to her creative writing group and then have it criticised as unrealistic by other students who have also had sex with the tutor. But Solodz's huge weakness is that he can never simplify and tighten his writing: he adds a racial angle, a disability angle (and how lame not to give the part to an actor who actually has Cerebral Palsy) and hugely overwrites all the characters. The second film also has a good core idea but adds in a superfluous and unrealistic side stories. And behind it all one cannot avoid the strong feeling that Solondz is writing with a view to personal therapy rather than to produce strong and effective art...a shame because he has real talent.