Michael Heaton is a columnist and occasional film critic for the Plain Dealer, my local newspaper. In yesterday’s paper he does what film critics are never supposed to do and that is reveal the ending of the film he had just seen. The film is called Wiener-Dog by writer-director Todd Solondz and the review, that begins with the ending, is as brutal as anything that I have read. Here is a small sample.
This isn’t just a movie review. This is a public service announcement.
Whether you’ve seen his earlier film, ”Happiness,” about a child molester, or just this one, director and writer Todd Solondz comes off as a hateful, twisted nincompoop who has nothing but contempt for his audience. I have nothing but contempt for him and this poisonous little piece of cinema.
After describing the general plot, he tells you the ending again and concludes:
It’s the final F-you from the director, in case the previous hour and a half wasn’t evidence enough that he hates you and anybody else who would be stupid enough to pay money to see another one of his ugly little mirthless and pathetic pastiches.
Judging by his work, Solondz is a loathsome filmmaker trying to pass as a purveyor of ”dark comedy.” I’m truly sorry for whatever childhood trauma produced this train wreck. But I feel no obligation to help him inflict his soul-killing psychological disease on the American moviegoing public.
Be warned. There’s nothing to see here.
In the comments to his review, Heaton gets savaged by some readers who see him as a philistine who does not appreciate art and is merely foisting his know-nothing opinion on us. But a review is not merely descriptive and is not meant to be neutral. A reviewer is always writing about their own reaction to art and has every right to praise or condemn it based on their own taste.
As for the advisability of revealing the ending, it depends. To do so gratuitously is wrong. Could he have simply panned the film sufficiently harshly without revealing the ending? Perhaps. But what I suspect is that he was completely blind-sided by an ending that enraged him and he wanted to ensure that no one else ran even the slightest risk of having the same experience and felt that he could not do so without dropping hints so strong that he would have effectively given away the ending anyway.
As someone who hates violence in general and in particular cannot stand to see animals treated badly in films or dying even when treated well, I thank Heaton for revealing this ending that convinced me to keep away from seeing a film that would have seriously upset me.