Chuck Jaffee: Forgive Unto Others … |

Chuck Jaffee: Forgive Unto Others …

The film “Life During Wartime” isn’t about war. At least, it’s not about wars on drugs or poverty or good ol’ World Wars or the more confusing wars we’ve had since then.

“Life During Wartime” is a family-based comedy peppered with disturbed humor. Compared with trying to balance the dramatic elements of the screwed up people in this film, it’s probably easier, for instance, to pass a gallstone.

If you’re still reading this, you probably need something to latch onto. That would be forgiveness. There’s not nearly enough forgiveness in the world. Director Todd Solondz rakes you through extraordinarily ordinary scenes of human disposition and relationship to lay out opportunities for compassion.

Human beings are not very good at being human beings. Or maybe they’re too revealingly good at it.

It’s far from sure that “Life During Wartime” can help soften you for the forgiveness you need to give or receive. The situations in this movie are likely more awkward, more ill and haunted than what you are dealing with in your life.

Three sisters inhabit anxious lives, each their own way, including an overwrought brand of love when they are together. Besides them, there’s a pushy ghost of a suicide and a husband who might do his wife a favor by committing suicide. There are three children: One too young to know her father isn’t dead; one who is finding out why he was told his father’s dead; and one who meets the father he knew wasn’t dead. There’s the normal divorced guy, although seeing his son, you have to wonder.

If you’re willing to work harder for funny and harder for human, you may find a way to carry the honesty in “Life During Wartime.”

This film is an opportunity to inoculate yourself with a specially crafted discomfort that may help you deal with real discomforts better. If I’ve steered you wrong, please, forgive me.

Chuck Jaffee of Nevada City likes to plug people into the spirit of independent filmmakers. Find his other articles for The Union at

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