Squid and the Whale

The Squid and the Whale

4.5 4
Director: Noah Baumbach, Jeff Daniels, Laura Linney, Jesse Eisenberg

Cast: Noah Baumbach, Jeff Daniels, Laura Linney, Jesse Eisenberg

     
 

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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

Overview

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 -- 16-year-old Walt (Jesse Eisenberg) and 12-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.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Josh Ralske
Writer/director Noah Baumbach takes a major step forward as a filmmaker with The Squid and the Whale. Perhaps it's the combination of revelatory autobiographical content and producer Wes Anderson's formal influence, but this is Baumbach's most emotionally potent and visually coherent film to date. While Baumbach's primary focus remains on his characters -- their personality quirks including what might be called "comfort phrases," (Ivan's use of "my brother" as punctuation, Joan [Laura Linney] calling her children "Pickle" and "Chicken," and Bernard's [Jeff Daniels] use of "filet," as in "Leonard is the filet of the crime genre," are good examples) -- his visuals, including a trip across Prospect Park by subway (while the family takes the car) work strongly in support of his narrative. Baumbach's ubiquitous references to other films, distractingly prominent in his earlier work, are integrated seamlessly into The Squid and the Whale. While his other films certainly had their tender, sincere moments, Baumbach occasionally seemed to strain to get laughs, or to ingratiate the audience to his oddball characters. He moves beyond that here. His blunt rendering of Frank's (the amazing young Owen Kline) disturbed sexual reaction to his parents' split, and Walt's (Jesse Eisenberg as a stand-in for the young Baumbach) pretentious adoption of his father's air of intellectualism feel painfully true to life, beyond their entertainment value. As piercing and witty as Baumbach's script is, it couldn't work without a superb cast. These are deeply flawed people struggling through a crisis, unable to see beyond their own narrow view. Baumbach captures the pain and confusion that lurk beneath their anger and bluster. The Squid and the Whale is marked by a sometimes painful emotional honesty that lends even the goofiest characters (e.g. Ivan) their dignity and humanity.
Time Magazine - Richard Corliss
The Squid and the Whale is domestic tragedy recollected as comedy: a film whose catalog of deceits and embarrassments, and of love pratfalling over itself, makes it as (excruciatingly) painful as it is (exhilaratingly) funny.
Chicago Tribune
Steering clear of phony melodrama and indie pretense, Baumbach captures a crisis in one family's life that, though it shakes the foundation, leaves all four Berkmans drifting toward highs and lows unknown, each of them only dimly aware that, no matter what the movies tell us, we never really come of age. Allison Benedict
The New Yorker - David Denby
A satirical comedy--ruthless and heartbreaking, but a comedy nonetheless. The movie is also about disintegration and the possibility of rebirth. In other words, it’s a small miracle.

Product Details

Release Date:
03/21/2006
UPC:
0043396134942
Original Release:
2005
Rating:
R
Source:
Sony Pictures
Region Code:
1
Time:
1:21:00

Special Features

Closed Caption; Director commentary; Behind-the-scenes featurette; Interview with director Noah Baumbacha and writer Phillip Lopate; Collectible Insert

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Jeff Daniels Bernard Berkman
Laura Linney Joan Berkman
Jesse Eisenberg Walt Berkman
Owen Kline Frank Berkman
William Baldwin Ivan
Halley Feiffer Sophie
Anna Paquin Lili
Ken Leung School Counselor

Technical Credits
Noah Baumbach Director,Screenwriter
Douglas Aibel Casting
Wes Anderson Producer
Reverge Anselmo Executive Producer
Miranda Bailey Executive Producer
Allan Byer Sound/Sound Designer
Charlie Corwin Producer
Greg Johnson Executive Producer
Andrew Lauren Executive Producer
Clara Markowicz Producer
Peter Newman Producer
Randall Poster Musical Direction/Supervision
Anne Ross Production Designer
Tim Streeto Editor
Amy Westcott Costumes/Costume Designer
Robert Yeoman Cinematographer

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- The Squid and the Whale
1. Start [:00]
2. Family Conference [:00]
3. Joint Custody Blows [:00]
4. Tennis Lesson [:00]
5. "We Have the Same Bone Structure" [:00]
6. Lili Moves In [:00]
7. "It's Still My Night!" [:00]
8. "I'm Your Teacher" [:00]
9. Talent Show [:00]
10. "He Made His Own Interpretation" [:00]
11. The Cat Escapes [:00]
12. "The Man in That Room..." [:00]

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The Squid and the Whale 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
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