Margot at the Wedding
In Noah Baumbachs 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, Baumbachs latest, the laughs are fewer, which makes the hurt the films characters inflict on each other harder to watch. When its not coated with humour, Baumbachs acidity burns. Nicole Kidman plays the Margot of the films title; the wedding is between Margots semi-estranged sister Pauline (kick-ass Jennifer Jason Leigh, Baumbachs 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. Margots 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 Margots 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.