Posted by: kfugrip | December 10, 2007

One hundred sixteen: Margot at the Wedding

I’ve been procrastinating and have accumulated a bunch of movies to write about. Let us begin…

Margot at the Wedding, written and directed by Noah Baumbach, is one of those rare movies about people’s failings that gives little reprieve from them. There are no heroes, no one has a heart of gold, they are only people behaving as people do, which is sometimes despicable. My reaction is much more simple than the film and the characters that inhabit it. People, real people, can’t be so easily distilled into a sentence and this is a film that reminds me of that. We are complex.

Margot at the Wedding is about two sisters reuniting at the wedding of one sister, Pauline (Jennifer Jason Leigh), after a dispute pushed them apart. Margot (Nicole Kidman) and her son Claude (Zane Palis) visit Pauline in their parents house, now sans parents, and Margot proceeds in turning Pauline’s life upside down, reverting back to their childhood roles. Bickering and fighting and all the while caring for each other.

What I liked: I like that Margot at the Wedding is a film that is difficult to write about in a paragraph. The performances, as with most films I like, are the centerpiece with Kidman, Leigh, and Jack Black as whole and rounded human beings. The direction, from shot selection and length, to choice of location was terrific. It takes courage to make a film like this, where people aren’t simple and they say and do things that we believe we are incapable of, like being cruel to your son or sibling. Baumbach’s choices are interesting in regards to the length of some shots. In particular the shot, a close-up of Claude being bitten in the ear by a neighborhood boy, is held for longer than such a shot would be in most other films. This hold on the screaming boy’s face fits perfectly with the pace of the film and lends for a more uncomfortable viewing experience, which in this case is a good thing.

What I didn’t like: I felt the film was so episodic that it’s lack of narrative push hurt it a bit. Not too much. It’s difficult to remain interested in a film with character that can be so nasty and mean to one another. It would have helped if the narrative had more drive to it.

Also, and this is a note that I’m loath to make because it’s catty and belies the celebrity obsessed culture that we(/I) live in, I found the plastic surgery that Nicole Kidman has had done distracting. She’s so beautiful that I don’t know why she has to have these things done.

4 stars




  1. woo-hoo! movie reviews. i’ve been waiting (not so patiently) for some updates…

    i like this movie a lot, and i agree with everything you’ve said, so you leave me with no comments to make. yet i still managed to make some…impressive yes?

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