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The Squid and the Whale (2005)

Cast: William Baldwin, Halley Feifer, Anna Paquin, more...
Director: Noah Baumbach
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Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Running Time: 88 min.
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Two boys learn the hard way about how a marriage falls apart in this independent comedy-drama. Bernard (Jeff Daniels) is a novelist whose career has gone into a slow decline as he spends more time teaching and less time writing. His wife Joan (Laura Linney), meanwhile, has recently begun publishing her own work to widespread acclaim, which only increases the growing tension between them. One day, Bernard and Joan's two sons -- sixteen-year-old Walt (Jesse Eisenberg) and twelve-year-old Frank (Owen Kline) -- are told that their parents are separating, with Bernard renting a house on the other side of their Park Slope, Brooklyn neighborhood. As the parents set up a schedule for spending time with their children, Walt and Jesse can hardly imagine that things could get more combative between their folks, but they do, as Joan begins dating Ivan (William Baldwin), Frank's tennis instructor, and Bernard starts sharing the house with Lili (Anna Paquin), one of his students. Meanwhile, the two boys begin taking sides in the battle between their parents, with Walt taking after his father and Frank siding with his mom. Based on writer-director Noah Baumbach's own childhood experiences with his parents' divorce, The Squid and the Whale won prizes for writing and direction at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

The Intelligentsia at Work, Play--and Destruction by talltale March 28, 2006 - 12:26 PM PST
4 out of 6 members found this review helpful
If you count yourself among the urban intelligentsia who have both children and a divorce, THE SQUID & THE WHALE may give you quite a dose of worthwhile "creeps." Nobody here comes off as very likeable, including the kids, but they do ring true--and sad. If you don't find some of yourself in these parents (maybe in the kids, too, if you look back far enough), I'll be surprised.

Supposedly, writer/director Noah Baumbach based his film on his own family. That he was able to see all of them, including himself, as clearly as they are portrayed here--not as villains, just selfish and self-involved--is some kind of triumph. You can carp about this or that (too much overt sexuality in the younger kid, that dispenser of hand sanitizer on the hospital room wall long before this became fashionable), but it won't matter much. This whopper of a good film is exactly the kind of hard truth that never gets recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 6.96)
182 Votes
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