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.
Margot and her son Claude decide to visit her sister Pauline after she announces that she is getting married to less-than-impressive Malcolm. In short order, the storm the sisters create leaves behind a a mess of thrashed relationships and exposed family secrets.
Peggy is single, childless, in her 40s, a lonely executive assistant in a friendly office. Her dog Pencil is the love of her life, and when he dies after eating some sort of toxin, Peggy's life spins out of her control: a friendly neighbor invites her for dinner; a friendly staff member at her vet's calls with an abused dog he recommends she adopt - she does, and also finds herself attracted to this fellow. She becomes a vegan, supports animal-rights causes, and embroils her brother's young children in these concerns. Saving dogs and other animals become such a passion that her mental health and her job may be in danger. Are regaining control and finding love beyond her reach? Written by
The beauty of this film is that for the first time in my movie-going history someone has actually made a case for the possibility of mental disease being channeled into worthwhile activity. At the end of the movie, in an incredibly gutsball move by Mike White, the leading character discovers her bliss and realizes that she doesn't have to live and interact with the normal run of people in order to do some good in this world.
I understand how the completely unique story arc has left some viewers in the dust. But for me this is an absolutely great, unmissable, cataclysmic achievement, one which should (and probably won't) garner Oscar nominations for White and Molly Shannon.
Peggy isn't even someone I'd ever care to know in the real world. But her story is unforgettable--tinged with genius in the writing, and fearlessly, selflessly portrayed by the who-would-have-thought-she-had-it-in-her Shannon.
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