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The Squid and the Whale
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Reviews & Ratings for
The Squid and the Whale More at IMDbPro »

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

a winner - and i don't know exactly why

9/10
Author: zif ofoz from United States
6 May 2013

there is no 'plot' to this wonderful indie flick! it's just a look at a family falling apart and the parents unwilling to meet the other half-way and the negative and positive effects on the children.

this is one of those movies you can watch over and over and over and always find something new and interesting in the dialog and the character each actor portrays. the more you watch the more complex each member of this family becomes. it is almost as if you must view the film once for each character in the four member family.

each one learns a lesson about himself and just growing up living daily life in a upper middle class and possibly over educated family.

i enjoyed this movie for many reasons!

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

A Family Divided

8/10
Author: claire-cec from United States
12 November 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

My parents have been together since they were freshmen in high school, so it is always interesting for me to witness the dynamic of a split family. Sure my family isn't perfect, in fact my father was away working for most of my childhood, but it has never been quite as dysfunctional as the family Noah Baumbach so lovingly portrays in this film.

The film has a stellar storyline with its dark dialogue and its spurts of comedic relief, and just its total reality. But the actors are what really make this film. Laura Linney is one of the best, under-appreciated actresses in holiday, and Jeff Daniels has this amazing way of playing a totally likable A**hole. And let's not forget Jesse Eisenberg and Owen Kline's amazing performance as messed up kids. All of the actors/characters really suck you in, and make you feel like you are experiencing their pain first hand. It is awesome.

Funny, dark, depressing and so accurate, this movie takes you inside the war zone that is a divided family, and magically, you come out unscathed. Watch. Learn. Enjoy.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Baumbach takes a major step forward as a filmmaker with this film.

8/10
Author: G K from Mars
11 May 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The film is bitterly funny about divorce, it's even sharper and more original about intellectuals and their discontent. Two teenage boys in 1980s Brooklyn watch with horror as their writer parents' once happy marriage slowly collapses into bitterness. After their split, the boys are coerced into taking sides.

The Squid And The Whale is a coming-of-age story as well as an account of a failing marriage; superlatively well-acted, with Jeff Daniels and Laura Linney in peak form. Director Noah Baumbach also wrote the perceptive, acutely observed and loosely autobiographical script, which is wonderfully literate and witty.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Whale meat again, don't know where, don't know when....

6/10
Author: bobgeorge1 from Cambridgeshire, England
7 August 2007

Noal Baumbach has directed this auto-biopic set in Brooklyn and telling the story of a wrenching divorce. Jeff Daniels as the arrogant, self obsessed downwardly mobile Father is excellent; this film would have been awful with Bill Murray in the lead as it would have been too hard to separate the actor from the character. Laura Linney as the wife is also rather good in playing her gently emotional part as Counterpoint to her husbands Intellectual snobbery.

Its quite difficult to believe that such people exist; I guess that one of the values of film is that it opens up the possibility of other worlds. Brooklyn in 1986 is a complete mystery to me; I know I was in New York in 1981 when I first discovered that people might have a coffee on their way into work. But a world so filled with language I still find slightly unbelievable. Even when playing tennis or table tennis there is an endless aggressive chatter going on.

I am even more in awe knowing that this is a film about the actual Directors life events. I have no experience of divorce; nor of a world of words; nor of children so confident in voicing their opinions. In fact, now I think of it, I have never encountered a squid.

So, quite a success all round. Well, if one is looking at it from across the pond.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Quick word on movie and the special features

9/10
Author: grappleandstrike from United Kingdom
27 June 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

As there little to nothing left to add about this film (many of the comments above are excellent), I thought I would include a quick word on the special features of the DVD.

I thought the film was excellent and was superb on the three most important levels to me: acting, writing, and mood. The characters were fantastic in their development and dialogue showing an usual ability to blend the writing and directing in such a way the actors also "get it".

Although the sets were unable to be completely transformed, they managed to convince me of the period and sold it very well.

The Pink Floyd song was great and the more I think of it, the more important that seems to me to the story.

However, a nice surprise with the DVD is the discussion of the film taken from a film festival. I really enjoyed the clip and think it is worth watching if you have only seen the film version and are a fan.

Excellent film and special features, a great DVD to rent.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

The Squid and the Whale

7/10
Author: film_riot from Austria
24 May 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is what I call fresh film-making. With "The Squid and the Whale", writer-director Noah Baumbach made a funny, sad, intelligent and sometimes bizarre film with great characters. If you haven't heard anything of it before you might think you're watching the latest Wes Anderson-film because of the characters. The father (brilliantly played by Jeff Daniels): a writer without success, but a huge ego. The mother (equally brilliant: Laura Linney): the most "normal" of the bunch, with an interesting taste in men. The kids (Jesse Eisenberg and Owen Kline): playing cover versions of Pink Floyd and pretending having written them themselves or masturbating and spreading the semen on books and school lockers. But "The Squid and the Whale" has more than just its characters. It's a precise analysis of family divorce and the dynamics behind it. When mother and son are done with blaming each other and are starting to try to understand what each of them is going through, that is actually a really heart-warming moment. And if I'm allowed to say it, also a typical Wes Anderson-moment.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Immensely detailed, deceptively light divorce drama

6/10
Author: Framescourer from London, UK
10 April 2007

Unlike the (on the face of it) obvious comparitor Kramer vs Kramer, the film is more about the children caught in the tug-o-love of a divorce. Both Jesse Eisenberg and Owen Kline are brilliant, well-coached in an understatedness that makes emotive outbursts all the more shocking. Laura Linney and Jeff Daniels are also very good, if perhaps a little strangely cast: Daniels is rather serious (Bill Murray was the first choice for Bernard). However Anna Paquin and Halley Feiffer as two girls that embody the terror and titillation of puberty are quite brilliant.

Whilst the quiet manner of the film's execution focuses the ear on the excellent script, I do feel that the melodrama that might help the humour gets a little stifled. Plus, for all it's sense of forward motion there is no conclusion - only drifting cadence. But I liked it. 6/10

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

a pleasant but not unforgettable movie

6/10
Author: (mbinazzi@wanadoo.fr) from France
29 July 2006

As a French I might have missed or overlooked something but I still feel like giving my point after spending 9,50 Euros on that movie. I read above that the characters were caricatures, I won't go that far but still they obviously are strong stereotypes and they all behave and act in a predictable manner. The father cannot open his mouth without trying his best to impress the world with his literary wisdom and the mother appears like the typical bored "bourgeoise" who gets laid by Mr Muscle. The student who sneaks in the father's house also is the stereotype of the teaser who will mess up with father and son and then leave the premises (which is what happens). And Sophie, the girlfriend with some literary ambitions, is the stereotype of the girl next door. There is also some sex in that movie, and while I am not prudish about it I just feel startled about the fact that a young boy who must be something like 10 appears to do things I could not achieve until I was 13.... OK, no graphic details here, but I would be curious about a doctor's opinion! Globally pleasant but not very surprising. Perhaps other actors would have made the difference????

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

conflict

6/10
Author: leopoldfrank from Wirral, UK
18 April 2006

I'll quickly run through the bits of my review I'm least interested in saying. It's about a family with 2 kids going through a divorce. The acting is great. The music is like a WA (you'll hear his name more in a moment) film but not quite as subtle.

And so... I had few expectations before going to see this other than knowing it was about divorce and by Noah Baumbach who had worked with Wes Anderson who has made a couple of films that I love.

From the start the similarities were obvious. The Wes Anderson direction was there but with a story with more emotional depth. As well as loving WA I love emotional films so I thought this was going to be great but, unfortunately, I was slightly disappointed by the end.

The WA style of direction is done very well but is just too facetious and ended up neutralising any of the emotional depth the story had to offer. The focus of the story seemed to bounce around too randomly from character to character and the pace was all over the place not leaving the mind enough time to settle and slide naturally from one feeling to the next.

I find myself being really disappointed, not because it wasn't that good, more because the writing and the acting were of such a high standard that perhaps if it had been directed with more sensitivity it could have been a classic.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Indie at its finest

7/10
Author: Patryk Czekaj from Warsaw
25 October 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is one of those indie flicks that make you realize the great magic of the independent movie industry. We, regular people, don't get to see them very often. They aren't as popular as the tremendously expensive studio productions. Nevertheless, sometimes those low budget indie pictures make us debate over their importance in our modern world. The Squid and the Whale won two awards at the prestigious Sundance Festival. It wasn't really a surprise, because the story told in this movie is a one-of-a-kind experience. Two boys (Walt and Frank), aged 16 and 12, living in Brooklyn, NYC, go through a rough time, while their parents are in the middle of a divorce. Devastated, they start to perceive the world in a different way, make their private mother-father choices and interfere with the wrong parts of their lives. But most importantly, they grow up in front of their parents. Sexual tension is all over these young boys, which seems to cause a serious problem at school and at home. Even the parents have their moments of abeyance, while flirting with some new lovers. Fortunately, the boys occasionally find the right paths and realize that the love of a parent doesn't depend on the two of them being together, but on their honest dedication. The bright star of this movie is Jesse Eisenberg – this is the role that paved him a way to another great productions. Also, Owen Kline as a young, lost kid is really convincing. Personally, I consider the role of Lili (Anna Paquin) as the one, who deserver the most credit. She is not only a student and lover of the boys' father, Bernard, but also Walt's love object. Even though this flick isn't a no-brainer, but exactly the opposite, it can be understandable to anyone. Especially, people, who had to go over by such a trauma, would feel that the portrayal is realistic in many various ways. Finally, I would like to recommend this movie to everyone as a reminder of the old times, when a low budget and lack of special effects didn't mean that the movie wouldn't be a hit. I would also love to see more independent productions, which are made with such passion.

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