Noah Baumbach recently directed a film called Marriage Story that focuses on a divorce. The Squid and the Whale also focuses on a divorce, but under much different circumstances and perspectives. This was Baumbach’s fourth film but his first time working with actors like Jeff Daniels and Laura Linney, who both kill it in their respective roles. It’s safe to say that Baumbach hasn’t looked back, but only moved forward as a creator.
Bernard (Daniels) and Joan Berkman (Linney) have been married for 13 years and have two children together. Both of them strive for success in the writing field while their two sons, Walt (Eisenberg) and Frank (Kline) try to live up to their expectations. Early on, Bernard and Joan tell their kids that they will be getting divorced causing them to pick sides in all kinds of categories in life.
The Squid and the Whale hones in on family and how we move forward when we aren’t getting along. This was a big role for Eisenberg and it still stands strong as one of my favorites from his career. Daniels and Linney are built for scripts like this one, due to Baumbach’s uncanny ability to capture authentic emotions. I can’t believe Owen Kline hasn’t really had a career after crushing it in this film at age fourteen. Baumbach says a lot of things through his characters in just eighty minutes giving it a tempo that is so unsettling, but oh so good.