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.
Three teenagers are confined to an isolated country estate that could very well be on another planet. The trio spend their days listening to endless homemade tapes that teach them a whole ... See full summary »
Separated from her incarcerated husband Bill (Hinds), Trish (Janney) is about to be married again. Bill is a pedophile, so Trish couldn't be more excited to have Harvey (Lerner), a "normal" father figure for her two sons. But when Bill is released from prison and the boys finally meet their future stepdad, the family is forced to decide whether to forgive or to forget. Trish's sister, the virginal, angelic Joy (Henderson), is also haunted by ghosts of lovers past. On leave from her degenerate husband, Allen (Williams), and her job at a New Jersey correctional facility, Joy unwittingly leaves behind a trail of shame and exposed secrets wherever she goes. In one of the film's most stylized sequences, the image of Joy walking the dark streets of Miami in her nightgown maintains her innocence against a backdrop of self-affliction and desire. Written by
I would really like to see Todd Solondz produce something on the level of WELCOME TO THE DOLLHOUSE or HAPPINESS again but I'm afraid that I'll just have to settle for watching those earlier works. To be fair, I don't know what he could have done with the characters from HAPPINESS that would have worked better. I revisited HAPPINESS before seeing LIFE DURING WARTIME to refresh my memory. That film crackles throughout with uneasiness. When we laugh, it's to release tension. It's not the cast's fault that this film lacks the same punch. While unrated in the US, my guess is that this would have received a PG-13 or an R for a few exposed breasts. HAPPINESS would have been NC-17 for sure. HAPPINESS was about getting whatever happiness one can no matter the cost to others. This is a film about forgiving and forgetting and moving on. I can certainly forgive Todd Solondz for what he tried to achieve here even as the film fades from memory.
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