Margot at the Wedding
Details: (M), 93 mins, United States, English
Synopsis: Margot (Nicole Kidman) is a successful writer, and decides to attend her estranged sister Pauline (Jennifer Jason Leigh)’s wedding. On arrival she takes an immediate dislike to Malcolm (Jack Black), Pauline’s hopeless and unemployed fiancé. With her unnerving and brutal honesty, Margot stirs up trouble and plants the seed of doubt in her sister’s mind about the union.
Filled with profoundly unlikeable characters (but admittedly fine performances), and driven by a thin storyline, Margot at The Wedding ultimately ends up being an unlikeable film.
This is writer/director Noah Baumbach’s follow-up to his Oscar nominated The Squid And the Whale and, like its predecessor, Margot at the Wedding is an exploration of turbulent family relationships. Nicole Kidman plays Margot, a writer living in New York who returns to her family home, along with her teenage son Claude (Zane Pais), to attend the wedding of her estranged sister Pauline (Jennifer Jason Leigh). From the moment they meet, Margot dislikes her future brother-in-law, Malcolm (Jack Black), and doesn’t hold back from telling her sister so. In fact, there is little that Margot does hold back from saying. As the wedding draws near, problems begin erupting all around the family, and they have to try and navigate their way through the mess.
These are not likeable characters, and this is not a likeable film. Margot spends most of her time complaining, fighting with her family, and causing trouble; Pauline is jealous, pathetic and needy; and Malcolm is an aggressive loser. What little storyline there is seems pretty thin, with none of the characters satisfactorily resolving their problems, and a series of seemingly random comic scenes unsettling the tone of the film.
Margot at the Wedding, however, isn’t completely without merit. Baumbach does manage to capture that peculiar oscillation between love and hate that happens in many families, and the performances from Kidman and Jason Leigh are excellent. It’s just a shame that their characters are so truly awful that even when calamity befalls them, you feel little sympathy for their plight.
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