...engaging and discerning culture, as a way of life...

March 04, 2008

Margot at the Wedding - 5

This is Noah Baumbach's (The Squid and the Whale, Mr. Jealousy, Kicking and Screaming) latest film. It continues Baumbach's tradition of dialogue oriented film that focus on interpersonal communication and issues of honesty and intimacy. While all of his previous film have done this in a funny and deep way, this film seems to lack the cohesion that make his type of film-making great. It is very much like a Woody Allen film (almost always associated with the culture of New York City where both of them are from), Margot (Nicole Kidman) and her son travel to the home of her sister Pauline (Jennifer Jason Leigh). Pauline has decided to marry Malcolm (Jack Black). The rest of the film is then a series of conversations of conflict between sisters, cousins, and spouses as they work through there past and try to make their way forward. These characters live in the height of a therapeutic culture, and most viewers would probably say they think to much, especially about themselves and their skills at interpersonal relationships. It is hard to sympathize with them as they all seem rather selfish in their pursuit of happiness that they expect others to conform to. While the psychoanalysts might have plenty to work with here, it leaves a more general audience with very little.


Anonymous said...

In your review of Pride, you note the following--"the issue is reduced to a simple formula that leaves the audience entertained rather than confronted."

How can we reconcile this emotion with your reaction to Baumbach's film?


~greg said...

You are absolutely right about Baumbach, his films definitely have the confrontational nature that Pride is missing (and a main reason that I like his films). Again the flaw in ranking films shows its ugly head. Compared to his other films this is a 5. Pride is more in comparison with Crash.

Anonymous said...

OK, I thought you were taking issue with the fact that here Baumbach isn't entertaining enough, which sounded that way because of the dismissive tone that you inflect when you mention that the psychologically-minded viewer will find more material interesting here than will the layman (whatever the layman even means).

I've read very contradictory reactions to this work, and it's supposedly extremely indebted to Eric Rohmer's canon, so I should be getting to this one shortly. I like the contraversy that this film draws on...