Sunday, May 29, 2016

A matter of interpretation

THE SQUID AND THE WHALE (2005)

Produced By: Samuel Goldwyn, Disney, and others
Director: Noah Baumbach
Starring: Owen Kline, Jeff Daniels, Laura Linney, Jesse Eisenberg, and others
Pros: Strong story line, lots of emotion, avoid stereotypes, good acting
Cons: Not for the lazy viewer, hurried ending, lack of a relationship between the brothers
Rating: ** of 5 (2 of 5)

I was in a mood for a thoughtful film and, after much looking, I decided to give The Squid and the Whale a try. Why I won't say I was disappointed, this movie is not really in the same league as most other good coming of age dramas. The great strength of the movie, or most if the movie at least, is the strong story that always moves forward, never dwindling on a topic and keeping the viewer continuously engaged. Indeed, it does this to a fault, leaving a lot for the viewer to interpret, and that will certainly put a lot of people off.

The acting in the movie was very good, with some strong emotion coming out. It has always surprised me as to how many American families are broken, with children taking it for granted that their parents have different spouses. While I can understand that couple do break up, it has become eerily normal. The movie, set in 80's Brooklyn, captures what could be called a precursor to the age we live in. It does well to avoid stereotypes without losing the emotion. Jesse Eisenberg puts up a grand performance, and is truly the central character. However, the lack of any real relationship between the two brothers is difficult to digest. While I am no expert, I would think that siblings would turn to each other for support during a difficult time - in this case, they seem to be just moving apart for no particular reason - perhaps the director left some part of the story, partially autobiographical, untold?

What really hurts the movie, like so many others, is the hurried ending. It seems as though the director ran out of ideas and decided to just finish the movie using whatever gimmick possible. That was true injustice to a story that was set up so well, which is why I gave a much lower rating that the IMDb average. I would've liked to see more, and at 80 minutes it wouldn't have been too much. Alas, all that is post facto now. (OTFS)

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