Margot and her son Claude decide to visit her sister Pauline after she announces that she is marrying 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.
Two bumbling store clerks inadvertently erase the footage from all of the tapes in their video rental store. In order to keep the business running, they re-shoot every film in the store with their own camera, with a budget of zero dollars.
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
Nicole Kidman's hair color repeatedly switches back and forth between dark brown and lighter reddish-brown. See more »
You know, Pauline told me she's very disappointed in you.
She thinks you laze about the house. Ingrid is always offering to help clean or cook. She made bracelets for all the guests. Even Malcolm puts up the tent. You just wait until everyone else does it for you.
That's not true.
It is true. I wish I taught you better manners...
I can try to make pop-overs. If I remember how...
[She looks at him with grave disappointment]
Why are you looking at me like that?
I just see how ...
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Writer-director Noah Baumbach's style is almost unlike anyone else's in the movies right now; and, as both a writer and a director, he's amazingly compatible working both sides of his talent (his dialogue is the music while his direction--and the nimble editing--provides the rhythm). A small group of erratic, confounding and humorously twisted family members are reunited at a prospective wedding in Long Island, with the estranged Margot (Nicole Kidman) behaving as sort of a ringleader to the inner-chaos (she's not necessarily a reminder of old hurts, but she brings them up anyway, as if it's her duty). Baumbach allows his characters to tease and torment each other with quiet, yet unsubtle prodding, and the free-flowing scenes play out beautifully, just like music. If there is a downside to this style, it's that Baumbach can often be too knowing, and when a line or a performance is too clever it can appear forced. Jack Black was a wonderful choice for Malcolm, the unemployed, slacker-bridegroom who finds swimming pools disgusting and the thought of being famous too threatening because of the rejection involved; however, Black is allowed too much time to find the humor in his slovenly character. He is perfect when he's made out to be the dupe or the target of girlfriend Jennifer Jason Leigh's frustrations, but when he tries to conform to Baumbach's image of Malcolm as an enraged clown, the affectation shows and we lose both the substance and the irony of this man (we get more than we need--and more than we already perceive to be there). Baumbach is also perhaps too brazen staging talks of a sexual nature between adults and children; this works extremely well when the subject matter is touched on by just the younger people, but Margot's relationship with her pubescent son (which Margot already accepts is too entwined) skirts uncomfortable parameters which may be more amusing if the characters on-screen laughed a little too (it's left too blasé). The movie is brittle but never coarse and seldom vulgar; it has a great, wounded heart and very perceptive ears and eyes for passive-aggressive arguments and multi-layered misunderstandings. This family can't get over their neuroses because they don't see themselves as neurotic--only each other, and the world. It's summed up nicely in a scene with Margot and her gift-bearing husband when she tells him, "I hate getting a present that I already have...It makes me feel like you don't really know me." *** from ****
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