Dawn Wiener is back in Todd Solondz’s scathing anthology Wiener-Dog

Dawn Wiener lives. If you’ve kept up on the caustic career of Todd Solondz, this information should come as a surprise. The writer-director introduced Dawn, a painfully unpopular 12-year-old (perfectly played by Heather Matarazzo), in his 1995 breakthrough Welcome To The Dollhouse. He then killed her off(screen) in Palindromes, revealing that the unhappy girl became an unhappy woman and took her own life—a bitter pill to swallow, even for those who could see the harsh logic of this arc. But with Wiener-Dog, his new film, Solondz doesn’t just walk back that suicide; he also paints a (marginally) brighter future for his middle-school misfit, casting Greta Gerwig as a (marginally) more adjusted, thirtysomething version of the character. “You look pretty good,” a face from the past tells her with some surprise, and for a perennial punching bag like Dawn Wiener, that backhanded compliment doesn’t sound so backhanded. Coming from Solondz’s poison pen, it almost counts as glowing.