“Margot at the Wedding” is a comedy – though you probably won’t realize this.
Within the subtleties of the drawn-out dialogue and never-ending tension is a satiric critique of family dysfunction. But you won’t see this either. What you will see is an unresolved family conflict displayed through the onslaught of sly verbal harassment between two sisters, Pauline and Margot (Jennifer Jason Leigh and Nicole Kidman, respectively).
Beneath the surface lies a completely different story about dealing with (or avoiding the) insecurities and erratic, damaging relationships people all too often find themselves caught up in.
Noah Baumbach’s last film, “The Squid and the Whale,” released in 2005, was a masterpiece; another poignant look at family dysfunction, but through the eyes of two children dealing with their parents’ separation.
“Margot at the Wedding” contains many of the same features as this film. It’s dark, unsettling and funny at some parts. Baumbach even emulated the short-scene directing style from the previous film.
Nicole Kidman stars as Margot, a short story writer whose success comes at the expense of her estranged family. The film centers around Margot’s trip to attend her sister’s wedding to her fiancé, played by Jack Black.
Baumbach successfully creates three unlikable characters, which is perfect for this story; all three characters really bring out the worst in each other. However, viewers will have to see through this unpleasantness to appreciate the film.
Margot’s son, Claude (Zane Pais), adds another integral aspect of the film. Continuing the theme of family dysfunction and the effect on children, Baumbach, utilizes Claude as an embodiment of all of Margot’s problems that she refuses to cope with. While Margot is occupied with establishing herself as better than Pauline, Claude is becoming more lonely and confused.
Within every line is something profound below the surface, you just have to find it. Unfortunately, this film’s splendor may be lost to many.
Contact Campus Press staff writer Devon Taylor at devon.taylor.edu.