Is 8th grade better than 7th? [region 2 import version],
This review is from: Welcome to the Dollhouse (1995) (Region 2) (Import) (DVD)
This is a difficult film to review without giving away much of the plot. Basically you'll either identify or relate to some extent with the main character [and love it] or won't [and will hate it]. From the start we see a nervous Dawn Weiner [11-year-old Heather Matarrazzo] sigh deeply as she slowly tries to find a seat in the school canteen. Instantly we are thrown head first into her world of ridicule and insult where she is daily either teased or ignored but always mentally terrorized. The "Weiner Dog" is taunted endlessly, her locker is marked with spiteful graffiti, her teacher is mean to her. Things are not much better at home where cute little sis Missy is so spoilt she always gets her way -usually at dawns expense, while brother mark is the stereotypical science nerd on whom the families future hopes seem to lay. This isn't to say that Dawn deserves all our sympathy, for she turns much of the hatred thrown at her straight back onto others around her.
We watch various events unfold in Dawns bizarre world and witness her distorted relationships with others. Who cannot watch this without feeling some sympathy as Dawn tries to do the right thing, then gets knocked back for it? It's a bit of an emotional roller-coaster and much of the plot is hinted, rather than stated or depicted. Despite covering a wide range of taboo subjects from bullying through to under age sex and child kidnapping, there is no nudity as in other films of its type [eg Pretty baby -Brook Shields, etc] yet this rather bleak and depressing movie never fails to keep the attention with its constant friction.
The ending is left reasonably open and hints at some light at the end of the dark tunnel of High School. However for those who want the directors take on this, there is mention at the start of Todd Solondz' Palindromes. [based around a cousin of Dawn'] which explains Dawns fate and gives some disturbing details on brother Mark. Dawn' father also gets a mention detailing his unsavoury actions in Solondz' Happiness.
One final note, my single disc opens onto a black screen offering, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish and Finnish, making you think you've bought a dud. Making the selection takes you to the main menu offering the basic choice of Play, scene selection, subtitles and trailer. Go to subtitles and turn them off, [or you'll have them in the language you selected earlier] this then takes you back to main menu. Select play and the disc is all in English.
Dark, disturbing and unsettling, this is a much under-rated film that is well worth a try if you like delving into the nasty side of human nature and interaction. Not everyone's cup of tea, but definitely thought provoking.