With a plan to exact revenge on a mythical shark that killed his partner, oceanographer Steve Zissou rallies a crew that includes his estranged wife, a journalist, and a man who may or may not be his son.
The adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous hotel from the fictional Republic of Zubrowka between the first and second World Wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend.
F. Murray Abraham,
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.
Three grown prodigies, all with a unique genius of some kind, and their mother are staying at the family household. Their father, Royal had left them long ago, and comes back to make things right with his family. Written by
The Tenenbaum's dysfunction (while amplified for the screen) is quite an accurate portrayal of family life. Families are, essentially, groups of people living in each other's pockets, and, invariably, those people who love you and hate you the most.
Don't get me wrong, Royal and his (thermo)nuclear family of brilliant buffoons do not represent my family (or any other in the world I think!) but the family united against a miscreant father is a motif a lot of people can understand. It is this common humanity that really appeals to me as a film watcher, and what, ultimately made this film so very memorable to me.
The ensemble cast is astonishingly proficient. They all lend a perfect quirkiness to the roles. Anjelica Houston is the perfect former Mrs Royal Tenenbaum, down to the smallest nuance, Ben Stiller and Luke Wilson turn in wonderful performances, and this is the only role I've seen Gwenyth Paltrow in where I actually thought she was someone other than Gwenyth Paltrow (this is not an insult, it's just that people don't always do it for everyone, you know...?). Bill Murray, Gene Hackman, Owen Wilson, all excellent, all the time.
The black comedy counterbalanced with the drama of the issues raised in this film left me feeling like I'd witnessed a film event, rather than just another film. I loved every frame of it, from the Baldwin narrated opening, to the final tying up of ends. It never dwelled on melodrama, or the more potentially unsavoury elements, and it didn't sink into the schmaltzy "We all love each other" end it could well have. It began perfectly, and it ended perfectly.
I can't recommend this movie more highly. It's a must see for anyone who loves quirky and emotive storytelling, great characters and beautiful dialogue.
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