Friday, March 28, 2008


Not really sure where I fall on this one, the second film from Noah Baumbach of “THE SQUID AND THE WHALE” fame. I was really enjoying it at the time – it has that unhinged-female-character-study aspect to it that’s been the pillar of so many of my favorite films, from “Persona” to “Repulsion” to “A Woman Under The Influence”, and the acting is exceptional. Say what you will about Nicole Kidman, I think she’s a hell of an actress. Sometimes you’ll find folks denigrating particular actors of actresses because of their (good) looks, sort of the opposite of diamond-in-the-rough syndrome, and probably why Kidman or, say, Matt Damon don’t win as many critical plaudits from the more edgy film critics. Anyway, she’s great in this, but the film runs aground a bit in the believability department, something I had to be convinced of by my better half after the viewing.
Yeah, I suppose the dialogue was a little over the top, and I guess Kidman’s teenage son would be a little more of a mess than he actually was if his mother and his aunt were truly the messes they were portrayed to be. I actually liked how Baumbach didn’t make the teenage characters into younger versions of their screwed-up moms, and had them as sort of the only anchors these poor women (Jennifer Jason-Leigh and Kidman) had. The film plays out much like a 1970s Bergman film would, with much more talking & action than Bergman’s pained silences. The frailty of humankind and the continued juvenility of many adults is on constant display here, and ever character save for the kids has a lot of growing up to do. Of course all self-medicate with alcohol and pills, the way so many adults in struggle with themselves must. I don’t know, “MARGOT AT THE WEDDING” wasn’t exactly an uplifting 90 minutes in front of the DVD player, and probably not as good as “THE SQUID AND THE WHALE”, but I think it held its own despite a bit of overreach.

What did you think?

Celluloid Hut Rating: B


Andre said...

When I left the theater I was leaning ever so slightly toward disappointment, but this was probably because TSaTW was one of those rare movies that really moved me. This one was interesting, and the acting was top notch, but I didn't take a lot away from it. I know it was a study of characters but if you are going to rely strictly on that, and let's face it there was very little plot, you'd better make those characters extraordinarily compelling. It reminded me a little of "September". I liked the lonely isolated feel to it. This is a director who will hold my attention even when he doesn't hit the bullseye. I'm glad I saw it but it's unlikely I will ever pop it in my DVD player.

Andre said...

And Margot was actually his 3rd feature. Kicking and Screaming was his first. I'm not telling you this to correct you, but rather because I think you might like it. I did. The DVD is available as part of the outstanding Criterion Collection.

Andre said...

Ok last one. I just realized after reading my comparison with September that both directors cast their wives in those films. Is there a point to that obsevation? No, but I thought it was interesting anyway : )