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.
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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 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
When Walt is learning 'Hey You' from the record and from the book, the book has the song in standard music notation and in tablature, but tablature was just starting in the guitar magazines of the mid-1980s and the style of the book is also from a much later date. See more »
Ugh. The other reviews note that this story is based on Noah Baumbach's own story of his parent's divorce. But if it's true, does that make him the plagiarizer or the potty-mouthed serial masturbator? It's hard to imagine anyone wanting to immortalize their family with these sloppily constructed, clichéd caricatures of the sort of people you might have found in Park Slope in the 80's. The parents exhibit a reprehensible lack of concern for their kids as they finally arrive at divorce. The mother character is not expanded much beyond showing that she bore her dissatisfaction with her husband by having numerous affairs times during the course of the marriage. The father character is shown as an insecure blow-hard, affected more by his wife's professional success than by her infidelities. The children are, essentially, little versions of their parents, and are emotionally victimized by each of the parents in their (supposed) struggle to cope with their divorce. They develop disturbing habits, which are ill-addressed by the parents who are too busy wallowing in their own miseries to effectively address their children's' unspoken cries for help.
This poor character development & over-abundance of unseemly airing of personal grievance make this film feel like a student film. A BAD student film.
On the up side, Park Slope was perfectly captured & portrayed, instantly recognizable. I don't know how a big a deal that is considering that it hasn't changed all that much since.
This film was a disappointment.
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