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The Squid and the Whale

Posted by martinteller on May 6, 2006

Noah Baumbach seems to have borrowed two things from his collaborator Wes Anderson.  One: that dry sense of humor.  The way he needles intellectuals and wannabe-intellectuals is hilarious, and Baumbach is clearly striking out at himself, his parents, and his circle of friends (and I’ll admit it, sometimes it stung me too).  The appropriateness of the title notwithstanding, what could be more pathetically pretentious than a poster of The Mother and the Whore?  Or making Godard references (in French, no less) while being trundled into an ambulance?  And the other Anderson-esque thing is a soundtrack that sends me into throes of nerdgasm.  “Oh my god, it’s Love on a Real Train!  Holy shit, it’s Heart Like a Wheel!  No fucking way, is that little girl singing Kyrie?!”  

The tone and content of Baumbach’s movie, however, is not so much Anderson as it is Todd Solondz, or possibly Neil LaBute.  There’s an awful lot of cynicism and loathing here.  There is heart to it, but it gets buried under the nastiness.  I prefer Anderson’s more poignant, even corny, approach.  Rating: 7


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