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Margot at the Wedding

Noah Baumbach

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Margot at the Wedding
Directed by: Noah Baumbach
(Paramount)
In Noah Baumbach’s The Squid and the Whale, there were many laughs (like when pretentious teen Walt called a story by Kafka “Kafkaesque”). In Margot at the Wedding, Baumbach’s latest, the laughs are fewer, which makes the hurt the film’s characters inflict on each other harder to watch. When it’s not coated with humour, Baumbach’s acidity burns. Nicole Kidman plays the Margot of the film’s title; the wedding is between Margot’s semi-estranged sister Pauline (kick-ass Jennifer Jason Leigh, Baumbach’s wife) and musician/artist/professional letter-writer Malcolm (Jack Black). Margot disapproves of Malcolm and undermines his relationship with her 
sister---and the self-confidence of those around her. Margot’s weapons: passive aggression and a borderline pathological addiction to honesty. Watching the film is unpleasant, but Baumbach gets his heartbreaking themes across effectively. Margot, who never means to be a monster, and self-doubting Pauline (equally skilled at emotional warfare) have become who they are largely because of their fucked-up family history; watching Margot’s son Claude (Zane Pais) cry when Margot insults him, then parrot back Margot-isms, we can only hope he has the self-awareness to transcend his cancerous family tree.
Lindsay McCarney

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