Based on the true childhood experiences of Noah Baumbach and his brother, The Squid and the Whale tells the touching story of two young boys dealing with their parents' divorce in Brooklyn in the 1980s.
In an apartment on Manhattan a couple of friends from the New York upper-class meet almost every night to talk about social mobility, play bridge and discuss Fourier's socialism; the cynic Nick, the philosophical Charlie, party girl Sally and austenite Audrey. They are joined by Tom. His background is much simpler and he is critical of their way of life. But he finds a soul mate in Audrey, who without his knowledge falls in love with him. Written by
The film is compelling not because of a riveting story, special effects, or manufactured suspense, but because of sharply written characters whose personalities drive the story, rather than vice versa, extensive knowledge of its subject, and beautifully written dialogue.
The dialogue, by the way, is great not only for its intelligence and wit, but also because it instantly identifies a proudly unique writer. We can tell Mamet, because of his fractured phrases and rhythmic line readings. We know Smith because of his rapid-fire, fiery and profane writing, as well as his sensitivity. Tarantino is recognizable because of his pop-culture references. Whit Stillman writes characters who talk, often defiantly, in complete sentences, and say exactly what they mean, whether they're expressing their emotions, or shooting to kill.
Whit Stillman was nominated for an Academy Award for his screenplay for "Metropolitan" in 1991, and with "Barcelona" and "The Last Days of Disco", he's on a winning streak.
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