Friday, February 29, 2008


While Noah Baumbach's latest tale of familial dysfunction MARGOT AT THE WEDDING isn't as funny or sharp as his previous film, THE SQUID & THE WHALE, something must be said about the filmmaker's desire to take his audience through such emotionally turbulent waters. Supposedly based in part on his own life experiences (SQUID & THE WHALE was also reportedly based in some ways on his childhood), Baumbach again creates dark, cold characters that behave in wickedly mean fashion to one another. It's just that this time, his dialogue isn't as piercing and the distance he creates between these emotionally stunted characters and the audience is even further and more unavoidable. The film is almost purposefully off-putting; Baumbach is almost daring his audience to turn the film off. Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Jack Black are all excellent (yet thoroughly unlikable) and the supporting players, especially Ciran Hinds, all hit their marks. The story concerns Kidman coming home for her sister's (Lee) wedding to a local schlub (Black) who she feels is beneath their stature. The film's washed out and destaurated look, courtesty of master cinematographer Harris Savides (ZODIAC, AMERICAN GANGSTER, ELEPHANT), blends perfectly with the chilly attitudes of the characters and the early fall setting. MARGOT AT THE WEDDING is unpleasantly enjoyable (if that makes any sense) but it never comes fully alive the way THE SQUID & THE WHALE did. It's an off-beat dark comedy that some will appreciate and others will probably hate. I liked it but almost hesistate to recommend it.

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