Squid and the Whale (2005)

Squid and the Whale (2005)
Dir. Noah Baumbach
Starring: Jeff Daniels, Laura Linney,
81 minutes

The score reflects more the quality of the film than my actual enjoyment of it. I think many other idiots would at least agree that the film is well-done, particularly the acting.

The film is about a dysfunctional family and the children dealing with the recent separation of the parents. The film is basically a psychological case study, a very well-done one at that. If that appeals to you, I would recommend this film.

The film also something else to recommend and that is Jeff Daniels. I saw a film with Sean Penn in it before this one, and I recalled how people consider the best actor of his generation. Seeing Squid and the Whale made me think that Daniels should be considered as well. He certainly has versatility (roles in Something Wild, Dumb and Dumber and Bloodwork) attest to that. He’s so unique–good looking, but probably not macho enough for leading man material (although he was solid as a police officer in Speed); he has a quality that allows him to be goofy or serious. Anyway, Daniels is good in this. His passive agressiveness and his inappropriate behavior is played wiht subtlety. He should have gotten nominated for an award, imo. Baumbach does a good job of depicting the characters in a non-judgmental way: it’s clear (at least to me) that the the parents are really terrible at parenting, but Baumbach doesn’t beat you over the head with it. The parents do not create appropriate boundaries for their kids. Indeed, they seem to not understand the importance of boundaries, seeing their children as adults or peers.

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