Directed by: Noah Baumbach
Premise: The story of two boys (Jesse Eisenberg and Owen Kline) whose parents divorce and begin joint custody.
What Works: The film is very even handed between the characters and demonstrates how all react in the situation. The stories of the two boys are particularly interesting as the film demonstrates how their relationships with their parents and with other women are damaged by the divorce. Although the film is a drama it is also extremely funny and a brave film, taking on adolescent sexuality in a serious but irreverent way. Jeff Daniels, who plays the father, proves that he is one of the most versatile actors working today and this film allows him to demonstrate his comedic and dramatic acting chops.
What Doesn’t: The story of Frank (Kline), the youngest brother, may prove uncomfortable for some viewers as it deals frankly with the sexual development of a thirteen year old boy.
DVD extras: Commentary track, featurette, conversation with director Noah Baumbach and film critic Philip Lopate.
Bottom Line: The Squid and the Whale is unflinching but compassionate in its portrayal of a family going through divorce. The film is tightly scripted and well acted and overall a gem of a film that deserves to be seen.
Episode: #91 (April 9, 2006)