The Squid and the Whale Reviews
Noah Baumbach may be the heir to Woody Allen's seat as the patron saint of upper crust New York comedy-drama.
Where "The Squid and the Whale" fumbles though is in its shifting focus and haphazard conclusion. Throughout the first 45 minutes, the younger son and his grappling with the separation is the lens by which we view the action. However, this takes a dramatic 180 toward the end as we find out that Walt (the elder son) is the one really undergoing the most growth and change. It happens suddenly and isn't as earned as it seems to think it is. As it is, the running time caps out at an hour fifteen with another five minutes of credits. I never say this, but if the movie was just fifteen minutes longer, Walt's character arc could be better realized.
But that aside, this is a funny, moving, very real movie. Prime Baumbach and very deserving of its Best Original Screenplay nom. 8.3/10
Director Noah Baumbach exquisitely pinpoints how these unfortunate circumstances will jostle a child's psychological well-being and potentially expedite their maturation process when the child aims to reverse their role as a dependent and take on the role of an independent/parent when the parent neglects -- consciously or not -- their responsibilities as caregivers. Interestingly, Baumbach touches subtly on a ripening Madonna-whore complex reinforced in character Walt, a pompous teenage boy (portrayed by the fetching young talent, Jesse Eisenberg), who is desperate to gain his intellectual father's approval, holding him in such high regard he lives unashamedly in his shadow and ignores any of his blaring flaws. The Madonna-whore complex is demonstrated in the way Walt feels sexually entitled to a female peer whom he considers physically and intellectually inferior to him, yet he respectfully admires his father's attractive and intellectual protégé, Lily (Anna Paquin), who takes up residence in his father's home and is one of his students. All the while, Walt finds it difficult to have any sympathy or compassion for his mother, whom he blames exclusively for his parent's matrimonial dissolve and resents her emotional distance and simultaneously overprotective nature throughout his childhood. Walt's younger, preteen brother, Frank (a raw, yet tender Owen Kline), struggling with his own identity and budding sexuality, hopes to place some distance between himself and his father because, unlike his brother, he doesn't as easily relate to him because he isn't an intellectual. In fact, he is closer to his mother and feels very protective of her .
The Squid and the Whale is so refined it penetrates the soul.
[A-] -- 82%