Parallel storylines tell the current state of affairs for two ex-lovers: Nora's a single mother who comes to care for her terminally ill father; holed in up in mental ward, Ismael, a brilliant musician, plots his escape.
The Vuillard family is no stranger to physical/mental illness, loss, and banishment. But when the matriarch becomes in need of a transplant, the whole family is forced to come together, emotional baggage and all, just in time for Christmas.
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 the 1970s, a young transwomen, Patrick "Kitten" Braden, comes of age by leaving her Irish town for London, in part to look for her mother and in part because his gender identity is beyond the town's understanding.
The stories of Nora during a brief period when her father falls ill and of Ismaël while involuntarily committed to a mental institution for observation. Nora's in her 30s and has loved four men - her son Elias, Elias's deceased father, her own father, and Ismaël, a musician given to odd behavior with whom she lived seven years. She will soon marry a businessman. Faced with her father's death, Nora seeks out Ismaël to ask that he reconnect with Elias; a great deal else roils from her past. Ismaël has his own challenges, not the least of which are his feelings toward adopting Elias and his meeting Arielle, another patient. Ismaël's surface shows a lot; Nora's, very little. Written by
There is SO much going on in this film, but it has rhythm, pace, a great soundtrack, and enjoyable, charismatic performances, that kept me engaged from the word go. The editing owes something to 60s Godard - lots of jump cuts in the dialogue scenes - and 80s Rohmer - anguished 30 somethings worrying about true love - and possibly, in its tour de force final sequence, a reference to La Jetee, which is also of course about memory, fate, and mortality. And then there is the rather bizarre Audrey reference which opens the film: as Nora steps out of a black car, clutching her morning coffee, clothed in black, her hair wound up on her head, the strains of Monn River sound. So far, so post-modern. This is is a film that is freighted with filmic, literary, theatrical (esp Shakespeare and the Tempest) and artistic allusions, but that uses these in service of a specific point: that these cultural references and allusions make the web of our being - that art is how we communicate to each other (notice that all the characters communicate through art - the gift Nora gives her father, the music Ismael dances to, the book the father writes - even the 'murder scene' is filmed through a highly stylised mise-en-scene): that 'artifice' can reveal the deepest and most moving of human emotions. It is a beautiful film that will move you and make you leave the cinema feeling transported. And Deneuve is just great! I love the bit where Ismael asks her if anyone has ever told her she's beautiful, and she gives a slight twist of her lips, sighs, and says, yes, she has heard that before. Just because something has become cliché, doesn't mean it's not true.
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