Margot at the Wedding

"Good"

Margot at the Wedding Review


Eventually it may be that Noah Baumbach could turn into this country's answer to France's Eric Rohmer, turning out a steady diet of small, circumspect dramas about the lives and neurotic times of New York-era literary bourgeoisie. That's one of the things that comes to mind as one takes in Margot at the Wedding, Baumbach's fourth time out as writer/director and one that seems to set a template for the future. It's a chill breeze of a film steeped in ugly inter-familial squabbling and the blinkered mentality of its self-absorbed characters who can generally only raise their gaze from their own navels long enough to find something lacking in the person they're addressing. The sour tone which was shot through Baumbach's previous work, The Squid and the Whale, has almost completely curdled here, though without losing any of that film's swift tartness.

As the titular Margot, Nicole Kidman does the yeoman's share of the work here, as the bitchy and borderline sociopathic older sister who's reluctantly comes up from Manhattan to her sister Pauline's wedding at the ancestral country home, where she's marrying a guy she finds barely even worthy of her contempt. "He's not ugly, he's just completely unattractive," is one of the many evil bon mots that Baumbach gives Kidman to spit out in her seemingly compulsive need to find fault in and drive to despair anyone within eyesight. She makes quite a pair with Jennifer Jason Leigh as Pauline, the two of them strangely beautiful while nestled under stringy and flyaway mouse-brown mops. Kidman's eyes are flashing and penetrating as Leigh's are dreamy, the two of them seemingly not of this planet but in entirely different ways.

There's some ugly secret back in the familial past of this punchy and screwed-up family unit which has left them unable to truly connect to the other humans surrounding them, but there's not going to be any great reveal, as evidenced by Pauline's half-hearted attempt to psychoanalyze her and Margot's speedy bedhopping in their younger years. Meanwhile, the venom that boils inside Margot keeps spilling out, whether it's in attacking Pauline's fiancé Malcolm (Jack Black playing a less manic version of his standard oaf), criticizing the son she's dragged along, or loudly critiquing the parenting skills exhibited by the dangerous rednecks living next door (non-urbanites being a rare and not exactly understood species in Baumbach's work).

While the marriage of Pauline and Malcolm hardly seems ideal (she's a space cadet while he's a prototypically unambitious slacker), they do seem a comfortable pair with an easy, lived-in rapport. But that doesn't deter Margot, an emotional terrorist hell-bent on destruction, who's left a caring husband (John Turturro) behind in the city in order to sabotage what's left of her life by carrying on an affair with an author (Ciarán Hinds, practically the only adult on view here) who lives near Pauline. One gets the feeling that the viewer is only dipping briefly into this dysfunctional stream, that the bitter badinage between all the characters as the wedding plans slowly unravel is just the same as it has always been, no better or worse. Lessons will most likely not be learned and attitudes only hardened, never changed.

While Margot at the Wedding is certainly a smart and honestly ugly film, with well-toned dialogue and an acute understanding of neurotic compulsion, it's hard to see it as anything but a minor piece of work; a stop-off on Baumbach's road to (hopefully) bigger things. Or, he could follow Rohmer's path; there are worse things.

It's a pink wedding. All pink.



Margot at the Wedding

Facts and Figures

Run time: 91 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 21st February 2008

Box Office USA: $1.9M

Distributed by: Paramount Vantage

Production compaines: Paramount Vantage

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 52%
Fresh: 86 Rotten: 78

IMDB: 6.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Starring: as Margot, as Malcolm, as Pauline, as Jim, as Dick Koosman, as Maisy Koosman, Flora Cross as Ingrid, as Becky, as Alan, Seth Barrish as Toby

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Life Movie Review

Life Movie Review

Like a mash-up of Alien and Gravity, this ripping sci-fi horror movie is very effective...

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

Based on a true story, it's the historical aspect of these events that holds the...

Chips Movie Review

Chips Movie Review

It's clear from the very start that this movie has little to do with the...

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

This remake of Disney's 1991 classic is remarkably faithful, using present-day digital animation effects to...

The Salesman Movie Review

The Salesman Movie Review

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi won his second Oscar with this astute drama which, like 2011's...

Get Out Movie Review

Get Out Movie Review

Leave it to a comedian to make one of the scariest movies in recent memory....

Personal Shopper Movie Review

Personal Shopper Movie Review

After winning a series of major awards for her role in Olivier Assayas' Clouds of...

Advertisement
Certain Women Movie Review

Certain Women Movie Review

In films like Wendy and Lucy and Meek's Cutoff, writer-director Kelly Reichardt has told sharply...

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

After the success of 2014's Godzilla reboot, the Warner Bros monsters get their own franchise,...

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Filmmaker Gurinder Chada (Bend It Like Beckham) draws on her own family history to explore...

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

With an extra dose of attitude and energy, this Irish comedy-drama hits us like a...

Logan Movie Review

Logan Movie Review

Hugh Jackman returns to his signature role one last time (so he says), reuniting with...

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.