Squid and the Whale
Directed by: Noah Baumbach
Starring: Jeff Daniels, Laura Linney,
Jesse Eisenberg, Owen Kline, William Baldwin, Anna
Released by: Sony Classics
Short: Jeff Daniels and Laura Linney headline
an all-too-realistic portrayal of the turmoil
caused by divorce.
Joys of Joint Custody
by Andrew Bender
a teenager in the mid-1980s, the age of wine coolers,
Pink Floyd and “Three’s Company” reruns.
As if that wasn’t painful enough, your dad is an
oaf and a snob and your mom is sleeping around, yet you’re
still expected to love them. I’m so sure!
dad in question is Bernard Berkman (Jeff Daniels), a writer
grasping on to the glory of an early career peak, and
mom is Joan (Laura Linney), who is suddenly getting published
everywhere. Their life teems with the trappings of two
PhDs in literature: shabby-chic Brooklyn digs, The
New Yorker, Saul Bellow, Strunk and White, game after
game of tennis, no parking space for the Peugeot and blessed
Joan and Bernard split up, 16-year-old Walt (Jesse Eisenberg)
and 12-year-old Frank (Owen Kline), shuttle between two
homes and two lives and find themselves increasingly miserable.
Their parents, meanwhile, are so caught up in their own
antagonism that they grow oblivious to the boys. Though
this portrayal is certainly realistic, it left us wanting
to take a shower—alone.
Squid” is familiar fare for Linney, one of our reigning
independent movie queens, and here she delivers reliably,
as always. It’s a less likely—and a smart—vehicle
for Daniels. From “the Purple Rose of Cairo”
through “Dumb & Dumber,” his work has
required him to do little more than look good and not
mess up, but in this film he goes from being handsome
but blank to, well, neither. What’s next? Ashton
Kutcher doing Shakespeare?
look out for William Baldwin's silly and hilarious performance
as Ivan, Frank's idol and tennis coach, and Joan's rebound
boyfriend. But the movie’s real bright spot is Eisenberg.
His Walt becomes the fulcrum of the movie, the one we
can’t hate as we watch him combat inner and outer
demons and turn into a man. And we hope, but don’t
have total confidence, that he can do better than his