In his 2005 gem The Squid and the Whale, Baumbach had crafted an exquisite portrayal of marital breakdown and its effect on the couple’s two kids. Though not a sequel, The Meyerowitz Stories finds the three kids of an aged intellectual father with multiple divorces to his credit, still battling with themselves and with each other on account of having grown up in broken families. The film captured the intrinsically dysfunctional lives of the titular family through an episodic and wryly funny mélange – the narcissistic father Harold (Dustin Hoffman), a retired art professor and sculptor, who’s trapped in his own image even if the world outside doesn’t hold him on such a high pedestal anymore; the unemployed elder son Danny (Adam Sandler), a former musician and house husband, and his introverted sister Jean (Elizabeth Marvel), who care for their father despite the deep-set grouse they carry for having been neglected as kids and not achieving material successes in their lives; and Danny’s well-to-do accountant half-brother Matthew (Ben Stiller), who, on the other hand, never liked the fact that he was never given enough space by his domineering father. When Harold falls seriously unwell, his siblings are compelled to come together, and that opens up their unreconciled memories and unresolved wounds. There was a fair bit of name-dropping of canonized artists, and also some expositional dialogues, which felt tad superficial at times. However, that aside, it was filled with whimsical and idiosyncratic scenarios, with an underlying naked wire that got exposed from time to time. Performances were good throughout; Hoffman was peerless in particular as the incorrigible but vulnerable old man, and Marvel a revelation as the deeply troubled daughter.
Director: Noah Baumbach
Genre: Comedy/Drama/Family Drama/Social Satire