Thursday, April 10, 2008

Margot at the Wedding

A Noah Baumbach film with Jennifer Jason Leigh (his wife and my favorite actress) sounds like a good time to me... oh wait unless it is about an emotional wreck of a person named Margot (Nicole Kidman) who is like an infection in the heart of her family. Obviously this woman is damaged and unintentionally continues the cycle onto her son Claude(Zane Pais). JJL plays Margot's sister Pauline who is about to marry a loser in Malcolm (Jack Black). Margot uses Pauline's wedding as an excuse to come visit the man (Ciaran Hinds) who she is having an affair with.

Through the story you learn that both Margot and Pauline had a tough childhood with an abusive father. Pauline has learned to deal with everything through some medication and a supporting boyfriend. Margot on the other hand, breathes nothing but toxicity into everyone she encounters. I do think this is a brave performance for Kidman to take considering how unlikable her character is in every way. JJL is as always top notch with the only real find is Zane Pais as Margot's messed up kid. Jack Black is just fine as the recluse sometimes painter/writer who has captured Pauline's heart.

Baumbach gives the audience a story with no one really to root for... JJL is constantly put upon and the film might work if it was centered around her, but it's not. As always he writes brilliant dialogue, but it gets a little lost in the dysfunction. I think that the slightly more comic tone of Squid and the Whale allowed for you laugh a little more, but here you just feel cold. The scenes with Margot's put upon husband played by John Turturro are heartbreaking. This definitely looked better on the page than on screen.



John DeCesaro said...

Funny to watch Noah's career progress isn't it? Kicking and Screaming, Mr. Jealousy, Squid and the Whale and now this. He is progressively more minimalist.

I liked the Squid and the Whale because of the style, writing and character focus. Margot at the Wedding had these elements, too, but really lacked the heart of its predecessor. It reminds me of how Smart People puts off a Wonderboys vibe without the warmth.

Still, you can take away some really good scenes. "I have to tell you about the mustache..."

G said...

You're exactly right about the warmth factor...which is kind of what I was trying to say about how it might have worked if it was centered around JJL. You need someone to identify with and care about.

Yeah I thought Black did a nice jobe for the first time in forever. Baumbach clearly has the chops, but like Wes Anderson I would like to see them do something different for a change.