The Squid & the Whale

I just finished watching The Squid and the Whale. This has been high on my list for a long time, due to both the recommendation from my brother and the fact that it was produced by Wes Anderson, who’s one of my favorite directors.

The movie follows a pair of boys coping with the divorce of the writer parents, and manages to be funny and heartfelt without coming off as saccharine. I think that it’s a genuine reproduction of the pain and awkwardness that comes from family disasters, as well as growing up more generally. No one ever plans to get divorced; everyone has to wing it and make it up as they go along. Kids grow up too fast, parents look like they don’t know what they’re doing, and friction ensues. It has the feel of the Royal Tenenbaums, minus Wes Anderson’s tendency to create delicate, miniature worlds.

The trailer never quite appealed to me, which probably explains why it’s taken a long time for me to get around to watching it (that, and I only recently signed up for netflix). Reviewers have heavily criticized the trailer on Amazon and other sites due to supposedly misrepsenting the story of a divorcing family as a light comedy. I think that that’s only half true.

It is genuinely funny, mostly through Jeff Daniels’ one-liners and some more subtle incidents that come through more visibly on a second viewing. I think that people tend to look back on their youth—even negative memories from it—more fondly than when they were actually occurring, so in that sense it feels very much like a re-told memory.

Anyway, I highly recommend. If you like Wes Anderson, you should love The Squid and the Whale. And even if you don’t enjoy Wes Anderson, there’s still a lot in this movie to like.

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