Margot at the Wedding
- Kaleem Aftab
- 28 February 2008
Writer/director Noah Baumbach starts proceedings on his latest feature with a block capital title caption, forewarning the audience that his latest offering pays homage to the French New Wave, in particular the work of Francois Truffaut and Eric Rohmer. As with his excellent The Squid and The Whale, Margot at the Wedding is also a domestic drama, in which every action, sentence or silence provokes a rollercoaster of emotions about who did what to whom, when, why and where.
Baumbach, in both his directing and writing (The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou was one of his inventions), is the master of schadenfreude. Here he tries to camouflage his least commercial work by using huge box-office stars in the leading roles. It’s a shame they’re so badly miscast. Nicole Kidman, who has peppered her career with attempts at displaying her art-house pedigree (Dogville, Eyes Wide Shut, Flirting), plays the eponymous writer returning to her family home in the Hamptons for her sister Pauline’s (Jennifer Jason Leigh) wedding to Jack Black. While Black’s performance is supposedly the window that lets audiences in on the secret that this is a comedy of bad manners, the actor’s inability to underplay any character coupled to his desire to steal every scene casts a huge dark cloud over the film that never lifts. The movie just isn’t funny, nor is Baumbach’s decision to leave the boom in shot in any way avant-garde. Overall this is morose, and full of self-absorbed and infuriating characters.
General release from Fri 29 Feb.