Jul 4, 2008

Just Seen: The Squid And The Whale

It's strange how instincts seem to be right on most occasions. When I decided to see this film, I just couldn't remember where I knew Noah Baumbach's name from. Then I started watching it, and I kept thinking “God, this reeks of Wes Anderson”... I don't know why I thought it – Wes Anderson's films are usually much 'quirkier' than this (Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums...), but I just somehow got the same feeling watching it. Turns out? Wes Anderson produced this... Which means...
I hated it.
Don't get me wrong – yeah, I dislike Anderson's movies, but I hated this even before I found out he was involved.
The story is too simple for its own sake: two intellectuals – Joan (Laura Linney) and Bernard (Jeff Daniels) are getting a divorce, and their children Frank and Walt are having a hard time accepting it. And that's it. No, really. That's all there is to it. And with a synopsis as straight-forward as that, it still could've been a decent film. Unfortunately, the characters are so unlikeable that it's impossible to sympathize... The father is a declining writer, jealous of every other writer in the world, including his wife. Oh, and he is also a pathetic, sleazy, pompous ass. The older son is trying to be a replica of the father, minus any kind of talent, AND he is a jerk. The younger son is just – I don't know – sort of disturbing... And the mother is perhaps the most likable character, but not explored thoroughly enough. The acting is, I must admit, very good (except maybe from Linney – I've gotten used to expecting much more from her). Jeff Daniels is especially brilliant as the lost middle-aged man trying to hide his failures behind a PhD.
Apart from that? It's just emptiness... Emptiness in the script and in the characters' souls. It's supposed to be an emotional topic, but I just ended up feeling very cold and removed from it all.
Plus, you could see the ending coming from a mile away.

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1 comment:

Maria said...

Thanks for the review. I love Laura Linney as an actress, but it doesn't sound like she helped this film out any.
have a great week :)