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.
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.
A slice of family life: sisters, husbands, children, history, secrets, jealousies. Margot and her teen son, Claude, travel from Manhattan to her family's Long Island home, occupied by sister Pauline, Pauline's daughter, and Malcolm, the slacker Pauline will marry outdoors that week under a tree neighbors want removed. Backbiting marks family discussion, particularly between the sisters and in Margot's cutting remarks to Claude. Pauline tells Margot a secret that Margot promptly tells Claude. Margot dislikes Malcolm and undermines him. She also has marital problems and a lover nearby. People are cruel, inside and outside their families. Is there a refuge for Margot or for Pauline? Written by
Margot at the Wedding (2007), was written and directed by Noah Baumbach. The family in this film makes the family in Baumbach's "Squid and the Whale" look like the the Waltons. They are very strange people.
Margot (Nicole Kidman) and her sister Pauline (Jennifer Jason Leigh) come together before Pauline's marriage to Malcolm (Jack Black). The plot outline refers to Malcolm as "less than impressive." I would agree, although you could make the case that even though he's a loser, he's a lovable loser. (I don't see it, but maybe Pauline does.)
Margot is a destructive person. She manages to drag everyone down to her depressed level, especially her son Claude and her sister Pauline. (Claude has problems of his own, but they aren't helped by his mother, who is in turn loving and supportive and then hostile and destructive.)
Suspension of disbelief is demanded here. Pauline and Margot have a long talk about how they are no longer physically desirable, and so they'll have to settle for any man that will have them. Has Baumbach looked at Nicole Kidman? I know he's looked at Jennifer Jason Leigh, because she's his wife. Pauline and Margot may have to settle for less-than-ideal men, but not on the basis of their unattractiveness. (Neurosis, yes; unattractiveness, no.)
We saw this movie in a theater, but it should work well on DVD. It's worth seeing if you enjoy films about pathological relationships. The acting was solid, and the camera work was interesting. Just don't expect Beaver Cleaver and his family.
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