Tuesday 15 December 2009

The Squid and the Whale [2005]

The Squid and the Whale is one of the most incisive looks into the breaking-down of a marriage and its various repercussions. Yet, despite the topic being a ready-made recipe for a deadly serious tone, or a pungent black comedy for that matter, Noah Baumbach managed to do the near impossible by seamlessly traversing a fine middle ground. The prime reason for his being able to do that, and in managing to infuse sensitivity and humanism and not just sharp wit, might be the semi-autobiographical nature of the story – the director’s parents too went through a similarly acrimonious divorce proceeding when he was in his teens. The movie revolves around the gradual disintigration in the marital relationship of an erudite once-famous writer and his wife, who, to his dismay, has grown in popularity as a budding writer (they are the intellectual equivalents of an aristocrat and a nouveau riche, respectively), and the damaging effects on their two kids – a teenager who has taken after his intellectually-inclined father, and a 12-year old who, declaring himself a “philistine”, (not so subtly) sides with his mother. The standout performance in the movie belongs to the surprisingly brilliant Jeff Daniels, while the kids and the ever reliable Laura Linney, too, are quite exceptional. The movie also boasts of an exquisite pop-soundtrack.

Director: Noah Baumbach
Genre: Drama/Family Drama/Coming-of-Age
Language: English
Country: US


Sam Juliano said...

Shubhajit, tou peeled away the gauze here and got right down to this film's basic appeal and artsitry in this exceptional capsule. As it is I share your fondless for this film, Daniels's and Linney's performance (back in the TERMS OF ENDEARMENT days I never thought Daniels would develop) and teh excellent pop soundtrack. It's of course more than significant as you note that the directo went through the same situation that is at the center of the film, and that usually brings out some acute insights.

John said...

Shubhajit, I am in complete agreement with Sam's comments here. You nailed down the appeal of this film and the fine performances by Daniel's and Linney.

sitenoise said...

nice film, nice review. not that you don't have a million in your queue already but the Baumbach/Wes Anderson collabro "Life Aquatic" awaits you. And I really like Baumbach's early stuff too:"Kicking & Screaming" "Mr. Jealousy". Young, but good.