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The Squid and the Whale (2005)



Average Rating: 7.9/10
Reviews Counted: 141
Fresh: 131 | Rotten: 10

This is a piercingly honest, acidly witty look at divorce and its impact on a family.


Average Rating: 8.3/10
Critic Reviews: 38
Fresh: 38 | Rotten: 0

This is a piercingly honest, acidly witty look at divorce and its impact on a family.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 76,892

My Rating

Movie Info

Bernard Berkman, the patriarch of an eccentric Brooklyn family, claims to have been a famous novelist but is now reduced to teaching. His wife Joan discovers a literary talent of her own, and it breaks up the family, leaving the two teenage sons, Walt, 16, and Frank, 12, divided between their parents. The wife starts an affair with her younger son's tennis coach, while the husband starts sleeping with a student whom his elder son is courting.


Art House & International, Drama

Noah Baumbach

Mar 14, 2006


Samuel Goldwyn Films - Official Site External Icon

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August 23, 2007:
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It's been sort of lost in all the hoopla surrounding Judd Apatow, Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, and...


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All Critics (156) | Top Critics (43) | Fresh (131) | Rotten (10) | DVD (20)

A wry exercise in acute observation and emotional distancing, Noah Baumbach's The Squid and the Whale represents what's best in autobiographical filmmaking.

January 5, 2006
Hollywood Reporter
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The Squid and the Whale is essentially about how we grow up by absorbing what is useful in our parents and forgiving what is not.

December 6, 2005 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Don't look now, but Jeff Daniels' days as 'the other Jeff' may be coming to an end.

November 23, 2005 Full Review Source: Arizona Republic
Arizona Republic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Hilarious, harrowing and heartbreaking, The Squid and the Whale is one of the best movies of the year.

November 17, 2005 Full Review Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It has the messiness of real life, with uncombed hair and unanswered questions.

November 4, 2005 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A brutal study in distracted parenting.

November 4, 2005 Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Try as he might to cut to the frayed nerves of a scene, Baumbach lets cuteness get in the way

September 1, 2009 Full Review Source: CinePassion | Comment (1)

A simple but engrossing parable of a family set in half, and their children having to choose sides.

April 29, 2009 Full Review Source: Cinema Crazed
Cinema Crazed

Like the diorama in New York's Museum of Natural History from which the film's title is derived, The Squid And The Whale depicts deep-seated conflict in a manner that is at once exquisitely lifelike and mesmerisingly awful to look at.

August 6, 2007 Full Review Source: Eye for Film
Eye for Film

The script is delightful, and the banter between the family members is fresh without seeming too scripted.

June 21, 2007 Full Review Source: Film Scouts
Film Scouts

Un retrato honesto y revelador de la descomposición de un matrimonio, visto desde la perspectiva de los hijos adolescentes.

August 11, 2006 Full Review Source: Uruguay Total
Uruguay Total

...Baumbach's most emotionally potent and visually coherent film to date.

August 5, 2006 Full Review Source: All Movie Guide
All Movie Guide

Doesn't break much new ground in terms of parental misconduct or adolescent sexual confusion.

May 4, 2006 Full Review Source: | Comments (2)

Beautifully written, moving and frequently hilarious drama with terrific performances and superb, Oscar-nominated dialogue - this is one of the best films of the year.

April 6, 2006 Full Review Source: ViewLondon

It's brittle, yet tender. Familiar, yet fresh. Intelligent with shooting pains of unpredictability, the film offers no simple answers to unanswerable questions. Instead it leave us with a heartfelt portrayal that involves and touches us.

April 2, 2006 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

Relentless in its condemnation of childish parenting and irresponsibility, Noah Baumbach's uncomfortable The Squid and the Whale ranks as one of 2005's best films by pulling no punches whatsoever.

February 3, 2006 Full Review Source: Film and Felt
Film and Felt

An insightful, unblinking, bittersweet and funny portrait of a family in the process of a bitter divorce.

February 2, 2006 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope
Laramie Movie Scope

As smart and strongly acted as the movie is, you're still left with the feeling that it's ultimately a rather thin slice of personal history that would have been better left as a short story or a lifetime of therapy sessions.

January 5, 2006 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Daily News
Los Angeles Daily News

... this movie makes you want to hit these stupid parents on the head with a mallet until they come to their senses and realize their poison is contaminating their children.

December 29, 2005 Full Review
Atlantic City Weekly

[Squid] joins The Ice Storm and The Royal Tennebaums ... as one of the strongest recent films about the far-reaching consequences of adultery and divorce.

December 28, 2005 Full Review Source: Looking Closer
Looking Closer

A biting comedy emerges from the truths in the characters' confused actions, brought brilliantly to life by each of the actors.

December 23, 2005 Full Review Source: Window to the Movies
Window to the Movies

A deeply personal and unsparing film, The Squid and the Whale finds humor in the heartache and harpoons the notion that divorce has no casualties.

December 22, 2005 Full Review Source: Reel Times: Reflections on Cinema
Reel Times: Reflections on Cinema

Perceptive and graced with a dozen or so small moments of truth ... a highly personal movie that will so thoroughly connect with some members of its audience that they might well be transformed by it.

December 17, 2005 Full Review Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

In the end, Baumbach's rich film is about coming to terms with reality.

December 14, 2005 Full Review Source: Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

In its tragicomic presentation strikes a true note.

December 14, 2005 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Audience Reviews for The Squid and the Whale

Pleasant, engaging drama that boasts some stunning performances, I really enjoyed the Squid and the Whale, which is a surprisingly charming picture that mixes drama with a few aspects of comedy. The result is a film that is highly entertaining from start to finish, and each actor brings something great to the screen. The film is well worth seeing, and ranks among the finest dramas I have seen in the last few months. Even if this film is nearly a decade old, I'm glad I finally got around to seeing this film, as it is well worth your time. With effective performances that really bring out the best of the film's elements, The Squid and the Whale is a near perfect film that is well worth your time. It's a short, straight to the point film that just dives into its plot, and you get hooked fairly easily simple, yet effective this film takes a simple idea, and runs with it and pulls off something wonderful. Short and sweet, and to the point. This is an impressive picture, one that is accomplished in what it tries to do, and it features Jesse Eisenberg finest performance to date. This is the perfect mix of drama and comedy and it works quite well to grab your attention and make it a film going experience that will stick with you long after you've seen it. The performances are wonderful, and the plot is rich, and The Squid and the Whale has something for everyone. For those who enjoy the genre, this is a film well worth your time, and is an engaging picture from start to finish.
August 19, 2014
Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski

Super Reviewer

May 20, 2014
Directors Cat
Directors Cat

Super Reviewer

I haven't been through a divorce, so this is all a little obscure to me, but this movie is believable. Although everyone struggles with the new arrangement - the movie primarily covers the impact on the kids. It bothers me that the parents say they are there for their kids, but really they are not. Both of them are more concerned about themselves than they are about their kids.
October 17, 2013

Super Reviewer

Overall, I liked Noah Baumbach's more-or-less autobiographical divorce story - even though virtually no characters are likeable, and most of them get no closure. The parents are terrible people, the kids have each absorbed the parents' worst traits, and the central metaphor (of a squid and a whale fighting) doesn't show up until the movie's three-quarters over. But on the other hand, this film didn't depress me half as much as I expected it would, and the acting was fantastic. And even though I watched my own parents divorce, I maintained some detachment from this story; it should have shattered me, but having had a similar experience actually left me a little underwhelmed with the the movie... and I think it comes down to characters that I just couldn't identify with. Are they realistic, or are they grotesques? Either way, it's a film that will make you think, even if (at 82 minutes long!) it comes up a little short in both runtime and story. A great one for Wes Anderson fans, but otherwise average. I'm truly of two minds about it.
August 27, 2013

Super Reviewer

    1. Bernard Berkman: What is it about high school, that you read all the worst books by good writers?
    – Submitted by Richard D (3 years ago)
    1. Walt Berkman: It's like... we were pals then... we'd do things together... we'd look at the knight armor at the Met. The scary fish at the Natural History Museum. I was always afraid of the squid and whale fighting. I can only look at it with my hands in front of my face.
    – Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)
    1. Frank Berkman: Mom and me versus you and Dad.
    – Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)
View all quotes (3)

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Foreign Titles

  • Der Tintenfisch und der Wal (DE)
  • Les Berkman se séparent (FR)
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