Sunday, 3 October 2010

Welcome to the Dollhouse (1995)

Welcome to the Dollhouse (1995) is the ‘growing up’ story of 11 year old Dawn Weiner aka Weinerdog, Lesbo, C**t. Dawn is alone in the world, she is constantly bullied at school and alienated from her family whose affections have been exclusively transferred to her younger, precocious ballerina sister.

In desperation for some form of acceptance, Dawn retaliates on her aggressors with futile acts of defiance, often repeating the methods that have previously been used on her. Dawn’s survival tactic in the jungle of adolescence is the blossoming of love that manifests itself in an infatuation with the lead singer of her brother’s band.

Director, Todd Solondz is always non-conformist in his storytelling, there is no Pygmalion retribution for Dawn, no shocking reveal where she removes her glasses and is suddenly popular, stunning and accepted. The situations are presented as darkly comic and you will find yourself laughing in the bespectacled face of Dawn’s misery. Her life doesn’t get any better at the end of the film, but exposure to the lives of others enlightens her to the knowledge that things could be much worse.

Dawn is presented as a character who is very hard to embrace as a viewer, but you will recognise her because either you were Dawn or you went to school with her. Dollhouse’s realism and stark wit enable you to laugh heartily and sit through the film with a grin from ear to ear because, you know you have tasted that slice of life, emerged from that inevitable awkward transition and you’ll never have to do it again.

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