at the Wedding
by: Noah Baumbach
Kidman, Jack Black, Jennifer
Jason Leigh, Flora Cross, Zane
Short: Nicole Kidman tears up the scenery
and Jack Black bares all in this compelling
family drama from the writer-director of “The
Squid and the Whale.”
Deconstructing Dysfunctional Sibling Rivalry
by Jenny Peters
Noah Baumbach has a keen sense of family dynamics.
He proved that in 2005, with “The
Squid and the Whale,” which won him a 2006
Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay. “Margot
at the Wedding” is Baumbach’s latest look
at how families work, this time focusing on two long-estranged
sisters who reunite for the wedding of the younger.
Nicole Kidman is Margot, a very successful, very self-involved
author, who brings her teen son, Claude (newcomer Zane
Pais, who gives a terrific performance) along as she
returns to her family home, where her sister Pauline
lives. Pauline is about to marry Malcolm (Jack Black);
that is, until her judgmental sister arrives and begins
to sow dissent and discord in her wake.
the serio-comic story unfolds, it becomes obvious that
Margot’s life is a real mess, as she’s mired
in an unhappy affair, is on the verge of divorcing her
husband, and perhaps even close to having a nervous breakdown.
But those are facts that she will not admit, instead finding
it easier to focus on making her sister miserable about
her life choices.
densely-layered look at how sibling rivalry remains a life
constant, no matter how much time passes, is a well-written
and well-acted endeavor, with extremely believable characters.
Jack Black’s schlubby, needy take on Malcolm is particularly
good, even though seeing the chubby actor in a small pair
of tighty whities isn’t exactly a high point in the
history of cinema beefcake.
Jason Leigh (who happens to be married to Baumbach)
is terrific as the woman who can’t help but
be influenced by her harsh older sister, and Kidman
(an actress who is often so mannered she is annoying
to watch) seems born to play this character, with
just the right edge of icy conceit paired with deep
while there’s no reason to see this film in the
theaters in terms of visual excitement, it is certainly
a worthwhile picture to check out, whether now on the
big screen or later on DVD.