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.
Coming of age in Plainsboro, New Jersey. High school student Hal Hefner stutters. On the evening his parents stop arguing and separate, 43 miles away at the state tournament, his school's legendary debater, Ben Wekselbaum, goes blank mid-sentence, Ben's teammate Ginny Ryerson doesn't get a first-place trophy, and the world changes. That fall, to Hal's amazement, Ginny recruits him for the debate team, mentors him, and will be his partner. He still has his stutter, but he works hard and he falls in love with Ginny. On the day of the first debate of the season, the world changes again. From then until the day of the state tournament, Hal has a lot to sort out. Is love rocket science? Written by
With another entry in the "coming of age" category, I really was pleasantly surprised to find--if not an original--a deeply-felt, honest portrayal of the trials of adolescence. The strongest aspects were the performances from the entire cast with Anna Kendrick and Vincent Piazza being standouts. Of course, the fine work of Reese Thompson will be rewarded by the praise he deserves (and hopefully awarded).
But this deeply personal film has many fine moments, both hysterically funny and painfully revealing. Because it refuses to be predictable--even in the final moments--I believe it will stand above other films of this genre. A well chosen score will keep it from becoming dated. It's never glib towards a range "bent" characters, and chooses to leave the smart remarks for the characters and not the film itself. Despite the subject of repressed anger and expressed rage, there's a sweetness that avoids the sentimental.
Clearly Jeffery Blitz needed to tell this story. And I hope he has many more for us in the future.
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