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

New Movies

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

After the thunderous reception for J.J. Abrams' Episode VII: The Force Awakens two years ago,...

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Like the 2015 original, this comedy plays merrily with cliches to tell a silly story...

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

There's a somewhat contrived jauntiness to this blending of fact and fiction that may leave...

Ferdinand Movie Review

Ferdinand Movie Review

This animated comedy adventure is based on the beloved children's book, which was published in...

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Director Dave McCary makes a superb feature debut with this offbeat black comedy, which explores...

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

A dramatisation of the real-life clash between tennis icons Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs,...

Shot Caller Movie Review

Shot Caller Movie Review

There isn't much subtlety to this prison thriller, but it's edgy enough to hold the...

Advertisement
The Disaster Artist Movie Review

The Disaster Artist Movie Review

A hilariously outrageous story based on real events, this film recounts the making of the...

Stronger Movie Review

Stronger Movie Review

Based on a true story about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, this looks like one...

Only the Brave Movie Review

Only the Brave Movie Review

Based on a genuinely moving true story, this film undercuts the realism by pushing its...

Wonder Movie Review

Wonder Movie Review

This film may be based on RJ Palacio's fictional bestseller, but it approaches its story...

Happy End  Movie Review

Happy End Movie Review

Austrian auteur Michael Haneke isn't known for his light touch, but rather for hard-hitting, award-winning...

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Seemingly from out of nowhere, this film generates perhaps the biggest smile of any movie...

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

A Victorian thriller with rather heavy echoes of Jack the Ripper, this film struggles to...

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.