Margot and her son Claude decide to visit her sister Pauline after she announces that she is marrying less-than-impressive Malcolm. In short order, the storm the sisters create leaves behind a mess of thrashed relationships and exposed family secrets.
Lester is an occasional substitute teacher and he's very jealous. He is jealous about the last boyfriend of Lester's slightly wacky current partner Ramona - arrogant best-selling author ... See full summary »
A New York woman (who doesn't really have an apartment) apprentices for a dance company (though she's not really a dancer) and throws herself headlong into her dreams, even as the possibility of realizing them dwindles.
A slice of family life: sisters, husbands, children, history, secrets, jealousies. Margot and her teen son, Claude, travel from Manhattan to her family's Long Island home, occupied by sister Pauline, Pauline's daughter, and Malcolm, the slacker Pauline will marry outdoors that week under a tree neighbors want removed. Backbiting marks family discussion, particularly between the sisters and in Margot's cutting remarks to Claude. Pauline tells Margot a secret that Margot promptly tells Claude. Margot dislikes Malcolm and undermines him. She also has marital problems and a lover nearby. People are cruel, inside and outside their families. Is there a refuge for Margot or for Pauline?Written by
Several outlets claimed that the character of Claude was an autobiographical figure of director Noah Baumbach. However, he denies this, and claims he identifies more with Margot, and had a lot of empathy for her. See more »
Malcolm has trouble recollecting the bassist for Motley Crue, and then remembers that it's Mick Mars. The bass player for Motley Crue is actually Nikki Sixx, although this mistake could have been intentional to further convey the forgetfulness. See more »
I have the emotional version of whatever bad feng shui would be I don't know. You tell me. You understand this shit.
Did you drink your teas?
Yeah, I drank my fucking teas.
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a glimpse at a perpetually torn and frayed family; Bergman or Rohmer lite
Margot at the Wedding is an admirable but not wholly successful attempt at writer/director Noah Bambach to go another step further following the Squid and the Whale. Where that film had the courage of convictions on the part of Baumbach, making a very personal tragic-comedy where the warts-and-all characters were part of a fully-formed narrative, Margot at the Wedding skips around the narrative, and doesn't have the kind of flow that made such works that Baumbach obviously loves by the masters of intense character studies of intellectual anxieties in love and the mind- Bergman and Rohmer and maybe Cassavetes- so potent. A lot of the time Baumbach has his actors right in the pit ready for a really harsh moment of lacerating drama, he suddenly skips the narrative off to a moment of oddball humor (I know 'oddball' is a criticism tossed around often, but what to call it when during a scene with a heated argument, it suddenly has to end when, oh-no, the mother's daughter is lying underneath a tree that is about to fall down after her soon-to-be-step father was cutting down and will also fall on the tent that... nevermind).
Point is, Margot at the Wedding, for all of its strengths in casting, can't quite carry the music despite knowing the words. It's the kind of work too that at 91 minutes feels much too brief; why shortchange some potentially interesting individuals by cutting off some more time spent squarely with Margot and her sister Paulette and their kids and Jack Black's character to put in some weird unnerving scenes with a Deliverance recast of neighbors? Those creepy folks, who at separate times go all uppity over aforementioned tree and for Margot snooping in on their house at them cutting up a pig, serve far less purpose for what is really potent and powerful in the picture. And what is also lacking is some context for the actors to work with; Kidman has her moments of interest here as a woman who is, as becomes all the more apparent as her story goes along, on the succinct verge of mental breakdown; Leigh is solid as always, even when she only shows her best in the last act while the story starts to collapse; and Black is strangely affecting here, trading between his 'shtick' persona of cynically detached heavy and a very sad individual (and possibly the most sympathetic, save for the kids).
What happens then is something that is both curious and infuriating; we're given some snapshots of a family in a perpetual downward spiral, where we're also given at the very end the overbearing sensation (less subtle notion) that bad things will continue on. Sometimes there are some moments that really caught me well- Margot climbing a tree is one, and it's a scene shot and edited for perfect impact, and there's also a strangely suggestive scene with Margot and her son sleeping in the same bed, of the complexity of their love/hate relationship- but they were too far and in-between. My complaints are harsh, but it's out of purely constructive critical thinking: Baumbach is a talented writer, as evidenced with Squid and the Whale as well as co-writer for Wes Anderson in the past. He can shoot for the moon if he wants to as a dramatist, as there is enough proof of that not only in 'Squid' but even in spurts in Margot. But he has not made it yet, as it leaves itself as an exercise, a kind of first-draft of a possibly much better script that instead got made into what's here.
This all being said, I was still glad I saw it, and glad that there are still attempts, strivings for a form of harsh truth regarding creative persons who can't connect with one another. It's always worth seeing a film like this, even if it doesn't work all the way.
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