Follow Us on Twitter

The Squid & The Whale - Preview

Jeff Daniels in The Squid & The Whale

Preview by Jack Foley

IT WAS one of the best reviewed independent films of the year in America, so it’s little wonder that The Squid & The Whale is now in the running for awards glory.

The low budget film about divorce, starring Jeff Daniels and Laura Linney, is the lead contender at this year’s Independent Spirit Awards with six nominations.

It is loosely based on the experiences of director, Noah Baumbach, and his parents’ divorce and is said to feature powerhouse performances from just about everyone involved.

Dawn Hudson, organiser of the Spirit Awards, praised the script for its ‘complete authenticity’, adding: “We don’t often see an honest film about divorce from a kid’s point of view.”

Needless to say, the film unfolds from the perspective of the divorcees’ sons – 16-year-old Walt (Jesse Eisenberg) and his 12-year-old brother Frank (Owen Kline).

Daniels plays the family patriarch, Bernard, a published author and writing teacher whose insecurity over his own lack of recognition continues to plague him, while Linney is his wife, Joan, who is grappling with her own sense of unsettlement.

Their sons express their confusion in different ways – the oldest by trying to pass off Pink Floyd’s Hey You as his own hit in the school talent show, while the youngest begins to explore his budding sexuality.

The film has won accolades for being both brutally honest and very funny.

Of the reviews, the Los Angeles Times led the fanfare of praise by commenting that it is ‘acutely observed, faultlessly acted, graced with piercing emotion and unsparing honesty, it will make you laugh because you can’t bear to cry’.

Newsday, meanwhile, wrote: “Photographed in a rough-hewn, French New Wave style befitting its alienated characters, The Squid and the Whale significantly fulfills the promise of Baumbach’s 1995 debut feature Kicking and Screaming.”

While the Washington Post observed that ‘the movie feels like it was written in the filmmaker’s own sweat and tears’.

And the New York Times opined: “Mining his own chidlhood, Noah Baumbach has put together an unsparing, funny portrait of a family in crisis and a young man trying to figure out his parents and himself.”

The final word, however, goes to Entertainment Weekly, which concludes: “Baumbach lets no one off the hook, least of all himself.”