Movie Reviews (such as they are)

Sunday, December 24, 2006

The Squid and the Whale

I'd kind of forgotten that this film existed until it popped through the letterbox, and then I remembered that it had received quite good reviews on its release. Then I remembered something else: it was written and directed by the guy who almost single-handedly ruined one of the most promising young careers in Hollywood.

You see, before Wes Anderson teamed up with The Squid and the Whale director Noah Baumbach, he had previously made at least two of the best films in the past 10 years: Rushmore, which sits in my Top 50 of all time, and The Royal Tenenbaums.

Then Anderson wrote The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou with Baumbach, and all was lost. Oh my.

So I was slightly scared at the thought of what this rovinatore [made-up word for "someone who ruins something"] might do under his own steam. Scared and curious in equal measure.

And you know what? The boy done good.

In many ways, The Squid and the Whale plays as a perfect companion to The Royal Tenenbaums. Indeed, I suspect both families are based on the same source material. But where Tanenbaums was hugely funny and then hugely sad, Squid is wholly more desperate from start to end, the story of a dysfunctional family with the parents getting divorced and its effects on the two teenage sons.

This was definitely a surprising film, in a good way, and is well worth 80-something minutes of your time. Baldwin brother William is particularly good as a tennis tutor.

Acting: 13
Story: 13
Direction: 14
Enjoyment: 15
Cerebral pleasure: 13
Total: 68