Combustible Celluloid
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With: Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jack Black, Ciarán Hinds, Zane Pais, John Turturro, Flora Cross, Seth BArrish, Matthew Arkin, Michael Cullen, Enid Graham, Sophie Nyweide, Justin Roth, Halley Feiffer, Ashlie Atkinson
Written by: Noah Baumbach
Directed by: Noah Baumbach
MPAA Rating: R for sexual content and language
Running Time: 91
Date: 08/31/2007

Margot at the Wedding (2007)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Tree's a Crowd

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

After an unqualified critical hit, The Squid and the Whale, writer/director Noah Baumbach returns with this polarizing, baffling item. Nicole Kidman plays the title character, who drags her androgynous son (Zane Pais) to her sister's wedding. Her sister Pauline (Jennifer Jason Leigh) is apparently on the rebound from a downward spiral, and though her choice of husband, the unemployed Malcolm (Jack Black), isn't too exciting, at least they seem happy. Of course the sisters start behaving badly and picking on one another, sometimes subtly and sometimes obviously, but Baumbach can't find a genuine emotional place for all this vitriol. It comes across entirely in his overwritten dialogue, and because the nastiness is all surface, it makes the characters seem unlikable. Similarly, Baumbach's imagery emerges in the form of heavy symbols, such as a tree, or a lost shoe. Still, the film has its moments, mainly in finding a place for Jack Black's off-kilter performance style. He's the only one that seems comfortable among the madness.

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