I loved The Squid and the Whale. I love Eric Rohmer. But I really did not like this movie though. Maybe it was because Baumbach was emulating one of my least favorite Rohmer films, Pauline at the Beach, another film with no likable characters.
I don't have to have likable characters to like a movie but I need something more than what this movie gave me. Yes, there are a few good lines and moments but not enough to sustain me for the whole thing. I wish that Baumbach would try to ape another Rohmer film rather than the one he did. That film struck me by having no interesting characters and I was pretty bored with it. Just like I was with this one.
Despite the subject matter, The Squid and the Whale cracked me up. I think of that movie more as a comedy than anything else. Margot at the Wedding is tough to watch but not fun to watch. As a fan of awkward cinema, it is even stranger to me that I couldn't get into this movie.
It also reminded me of a really harsh no-fun drama, Woody Allen's Interiors, which was his first attempt to make a Bergman film. But I liked that film (I can't remember it that well - I think I saw it almost fifteen years ago) more than this one. At least that one didn't have a blubbering Jack Black during the last 30 minutes of it.
In my review of The Squid and the Whale, I wrote, "The arrogance, the pettiness, the selfishness, the insecurity, the confusion of this family are all on display here. It is a testament to the acting, the directing, and the fine script that the audience is drawn to care at all about these pretty unlikeable people."
So Baumbach pretty much made a similar type film but just didn't pull it off nearly as well. Plot developments for the most part felt pretty forced throughout the film. It's like Baumbach had the story idea and knew roughly where it was going but then pieced it together as he went along. Or perhaps it was bad editing. It just didn't flow well to me.
It also didn't help that BAM's print was strangely dark. Or is that the way the movie is supposed to look?
I didn't like The Life Aquatic all that much, a movie that Baumbach co-wrote. I remember not liking Kicking and Screaming. I've heard that Mr. Jealousy isn't very good. Is Baumbach a one hit wonder?
Directed by Noah Baumbach
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