Film Review 38: The Squid and The Whale

Another movie directed by Noah Baumbach. It is made in 2005, prior to Margot At The Wedding . It’s his best piece so far.

Noah Baumbach has his own style of directing. He directs a film as if he’s telling a story. I said Margot At The Wedding was way too much talkings, but in The Squid and The Whale everything is more tolerable.

Bernard Berkman (Jeff Daniels) and his wife, Joan (Laura Linney) are novelists. The difference is while Bernard has fallen from grace, Joan is enjoying her success. That creates an intensity. Their relationship hasn’t been going well and after few rounds of arguements, they decide to split and have joint custody of their two boys, Walt (Jesse Eisenberg) and Frank (Owen Kline). Bernard moves outside Brooklyn, so the kids have to shuttle back and forth to spend equal time with their parents. The separation makes them see the bad sides of their parents, Bernard as the incapable father and Joan the unfaithful mother, and begins to take sides. While their parents try to move on, the kids are falling into deviant behaviours as they struggle to get a grip of their situations.

Although there are a lot of dialogues, it is not a bore to watch. The story is enganging and the acting is great. The movie deals with the issues of newly-divorced family in a dramatic setting. I had two feelings while watching; First, I feel sorry for the kids who are torn between. Second, I think divorce is a way out of hell for the parents, or at least Joan. So there are two perspectives given in the movies. As an audience, it’s hard to see the divorce from one perspective. Having both perspectives draws us into the characters’ conflicting emotions and feels involve to the movie.
I guess I like this movie because it doesn’t only dab the charcters’ personalities but explore deep into their lives and gives full picture of their torments.

I am particulary drawn towards two scenes of the movie where Walt dips his head in the pond at the park and at the near end of the movie where Walt runs to a place where he could find peace. Isn’t that what human likes to do when we need a getaway? It might seem silly to dip your head in a pond or run to nowhere, but sometimes you just have to do something out of the norm.

Overall, The Squid and The Whale is very dense, very interesting.

Mel says: 8.5/10


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