Artwork by Akiko Stehrenberger from the Criterion booklet of Life During Wartime.
The cast of Life During Wartime (2010) from left to right:
Paul “Pee Wee Herman” Reubens (Andy Kornbluth), Shirley Henderson (Joy Jordan), Michael Kenneth Williams (Allen), Ally Sheedy (Helen Jordan), Rich Pecci (Mark Wiener), Michael Lerner (Harvey Wiener), Allison Janney (Trish Jordan), Emma Hinz (Chloe Maplewood), Chris Marquette (Billy Maplewood), Ciarán Hinds (Bill Maplewood)
As I suspected about the new Criterion release of Life During Wartime (2011) back in May, Miss Stehrenberger has illustrated the whole gaggle of characters from the film.
The arrangement of the characters complements their relationships to each other so thoughtfully. All three of the Jordan sisters are separated from each other. Joy is torn between her husband and the ghost of her ex-boyfriend. Helen, the black sheep, who has abandoned her family, is ignored by everyone. Most dominant is Trish, positioned up front. With her steely gaze, she has a dynamic presence. Her vibrant, almost violently paint-slashed dress suggests that she has survived a battle.
Notice how both Joy and Trish’s daughter Chloe have their arms behind their backs. I find Chloe standing in front of her mother has the stance of a foot soldier. Joy and Chloe also share similar hairstyles, head shape and facial features. How ironic that Trish is on her way to raising little Joy all on her own. Remember when Chloe wondered if baby carrots feel pain? That’s the kind of thought “Sensitive Joy” might have had as a kid.
Fathers and sons are paired together on both Wiener and Maplewood fronts. The two Wieners assume the same pose. I’m going out on a limb, but I doubt Bill has his hands in his pockets like his son does. Of course, Bill is cast off to the far right. The only character in the group he talks to is his son. Andy is on the far left – he’s dead with only Joy as his last connection to the the world of the living… or is it just in her head?