New Release: Life During Wartime Blu-ray and DVD

Life During Wartime movie scene

Ciarán Hinds reflects on a chance at happiness in Life During Wartime.

The Criterion Collection released the 2009 comedy-drama film Life During Wartime, by the always-provocative writer-director Todd Solondz (Welcome to the Dollhouse), on Blu-ray and DVD on July 26, 2011.

Exploring contemporary American existence and the nature of forgiveness, the movie functions as a distorted mirror image of Solondz’s acclaimed 1998 dark comedy movie Happiness, with its emotionally stunted characters now groping for the possibility of change in a post-9/11 world.

Happiness’s original New Jersey setting is transposed to sunny Florida, but the biggest twist is that new actors fill the roles originated in the earlier film — including Shirley Henderson (Topsy-Turvy), Allison Janney (American Beauty) and Ally Sheedy (The Breakfast Club) as alarmingly dissimilar sisters, and a haunting Ciarán Hinds (The Eclipse) as a reformed pedophile.

Decidedly for very specific tastes (like most of Solondz’s films), Life During Wartime received a limited release in U.S. theaters last summer following a year of film festival screenings and a theatrical sprinkling across Europe and South America.

The Blu-ray and DVD feature a new digital transfer, supervised and approved by director of photography Ed Lachman, with DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition. They carry the list prices of $39.95 and $29.95, respectively.

Here’s a list of the special features that will appear on the discs:

  • Ask Todd, an audio Q&A with director Todd Solondz
  • Making “Life During Wartime,” a new documentary featuring interviews with actors Shirley Henderson, Allison Janney, Michael Lerner, Paul Reubens, Ally Sheedy and Michael Kenneth Williams, and on-set footage of the actors and crew
  • new video piece in which Lachman discusses his work on the film
  • original theatrical trailer
  • booklet featuring an essay by film critic David Sterritt


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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.