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The Squid and the Whale (2005)

R  |   |  Comedy, Drama  |  16 December 2005 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 57,926 users   Metascore: 82/100
Reviews: 225 user | 107 critic | 37 from Metacritic.com

Follows two young boys dealing with their parents' divorce in Brooklyn in the 1980s.



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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 21 wins & 40 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
David Benger ...
Molly Barton ...
Graduate Student
Bo Berkman ...
Graduate Student
Matthew Kaplan ...
Graduate Student
Simon Kaplan ...
Graduate Student
Matthew Kirsch ...
Graduate Student
Daniella Markowicz ...
Graduate Student
Graduate Student
Ben Schrank ...
Graduate Student


In 1986, In Brooklyn, New York, the dysfunctional family of pseudo intellectuals composed by the university professor Bernard and the prominent writer Joan split. Bernard is a selfish, cheap and jealous decadent writer that rationalizes every attitude in his family and life and does not accept "philistines" - people that do not read books or watch movies, while the unfaithful Joan is growing as a writer and has no problems with "philistines". Their sons, the teenager Walt and the boy Frank, feel the separation and take side: Walt stays with Bernard, and Frank with Joan, and both are affected with abnormal behaviors. Frank drinks booze and smears with sperm the books in the library and a locker in the dress room of his school. The messed-up and insecure Walt uses Roger Water's song "Hey You" in a festival as if it was of his own, and breaks up with his girlfriend Sophie. Meanwhile Joan has an affair with Frank's tennis teacher Ivan and Bernard with his student Lili. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Joint Custody Blows.


Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong sexual content, graphic dialogue and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

16 December 2005 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Lula e a Baleia  »

Box Office


$1,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$279,938 (USA) (14 October 2005)


£506,477 (UK) (5 May 2006)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs



Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


The agency which Bernard gets the rejection letter from is ICM (International Creative Management). This is the agency of Jeff Daniels, who plays Bernard, and also of Laura Linney. See more »


Frank complains that the writing desk Bernard got for him is for a lefty. Frank is clearly a lefty, as evidenced in his eating, drinking, tennis and ping-pong play. See more »


[first lines]
Frank Berkman: Mom and me versus you and Dad.
See more »


References Breathless (1960) See more »


Written by Richard Page, John Lang, and Steve George
Performed by Greta Kline
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Patricide with a dull knife
25 September 2005 | by (Dallas, Texas) – See all my reviews

Noah Baumbach takes a loving (oh?) stab at his parents' divorce, brought on by the hilariously immature antics of his father, and my writing professor, the ever pompous Jonathan Baumbach (Jeff Daniels).

Brooklyn College was a hotbed of activism and liberal arts when I first encountered Jonathan Baumbach (rechristened "Bernard" in the film, a sly wink at Jonathan's mentor and hero, Bernard Malamud). The arrogance and complete lack of self awareness is perfectly captured by Daniels in his over-the-top performance which, amazingly, underplays the actual father.

To call the picture patricidal is to completely miss the point; Baumbach pere is so self centered, he likely sees the film as an homage. Baumbach Sr. is a great writer; he receives good reviews in the literary journals and his books sell in the hundreds. Baumbach Jr., on the other hand, is a great filmmaker, and his movies (The Life Aquatic) are seen by millions. I'm sure the father is disappointed that the son isn't pursuing tenure at a small Ohio college.

I saw this film in a cozy college theater at the Toronto Film Festival. I half expected to run into Jonathan Baumbach, in his leather patched tweed jacket, preening for the audience and eying the coeds.

Funny and poignant. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll want to choke the bastard.

169 of 251 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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