The Squid and the Whale

I really enjoyed this movie. I had no idea who Noah Baumbach, the writer and director, was until he co-wrote The Life Aquatic with Wes Anderson in 2004, but he's definitely a favorite writer now.

Squid is the semi-autobiographical tale story of an extremely dysfunctional (i.e. normal) family in Brooklyn, circa 1986. Married for 17 (less than happy) years, Bernard and Joan decide to call it quits. Walt and Frank, their two sons, ages 16ish and 10ish, respectively, are caught in the middle of their parents' rather hostile split.

Certainly not a comedy in the vein of that other dysfunctional family of idiosyncrasy, the Tenenbaums, Squid takes a fairly harsh, acidic, raw look at what divorce can do to both parents and children. This movie really doesn't pull any emotional punches, nor does it try to overdramatize. Like life, it's neither comedy nor tragedy, but both, oftentimes simultaneously.

Baumbach wrote a very lean, sparse script. The movie clocks in at only 81 minutes. But he nailed the essence of what he was going for with each scene. He doesn't dwell. He doesn't linger. In and out, just the good stuff. In the era of 2 1/2 - 3 hour epics, it was rather refreshing to watch such a short film.

The actors were all fantastic, especially Jeff Daniels. It's almost a crime he wasn't nominated for an Oscar. Like Anderson with Bill Murray, Baumbach gets Daniels to give one of the best performances of his career.

So, yeah, the movie definitely isn't for everyone, and I can see why some people wouldn't like it. It's relatively slow-moving, in that there's no action, y'know? People talk. They argue. The little boy wipes his semen on library books. It's not a typical movie in any way, shape or form. But it was good. Good Characters + Good Dialogue = Good Movie.


Angelkris said...

So, which would you rather be- a squid or a whale?

The Writer said...

You had me at semen and library books.

1031 said...

I knew you'd like that bit.

mEg said...

I liked this movie too. The ending really did it for me. Loved it. Done. You're right, it's definately not for everyone. There are very few I would recommend it to. Glad you liked it.