The Squid And The Whale

Baumbach's aim is for immediacy; as opposed to the intensely structured and considered nature of a literary memoir, 'The Squid and the Whale' is intentionally half-remembered, half made up; a wholly fictionalised creation.

Article by Paul Gallagher | 16 Apr 2006
  • The Squid And The Whale

Noah Baumbach's latest creation has taken a little while to travel over the Atlantic, having been released in the US back in October, after premiering the previous January at the Sundance festival. There are strong signs for it being worth the wait, though, not least the fact that Baumbach, the writer-director, co-wrote 'The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou', arguably one of last year's most imaginative and well-crafted films. Like that film's director Wes Anderson, Baumbach has been making small but perfectly formed movies since the mid-90s, largely off the mainstream radar, and is now beginning to garner more attention.

'The Squid And The Whale', despite its title, doesn't continue the sub-aqua theme, but is loosely based on Baumbach's own childhood, specifically his parents' divorce, and it is perhaps this personal aspect that has made it his most succesful work to date. Certainly the film has gone down fantastically at festivals, with Baumbach's observant and devastating script picking up awards left, right and centre, culminating in a screenplay Oscar nomination last month. Baumbach has spoken in interviews about his desire to make a film of what is so often restricted to books: the family memoir. His aim is for immediacy, as opposed to the intensely structured and considered nature of a literary memoir. 'The Squid and the Whale' is intentionally half-remembered, half made up; a wholly fictionalised creation. As Baumbach told filmfreakcentral.net, "It's going back and looking at a painful event, but what I remember is tied up with what I don't remember but surmise, and then with what I think I remember but I don't." So that's clear, then.

The cast is headed by the Golden Globe-nominated pairing of Jeff Daniels and Laura Linney, both instantly recognisable as former Jim Carrey second fiddles (he in 'Dumb and Dumber', she in 'The Truman Show'), but here excelling as the educated but dysfunctioning parents. Adding some star power is Anna Paquin, still managing to balance her blockbusting 'X-Men' appearances with quirky independent roles like this, and the cast is rounded out by William Baldwin, surely thanking the good Lord for a chance to be seen in something halfway-decent, unlike the straight-to-video schlock he's more familiar with. It's an interesting line-up, and combined with a unique director, should make for a great film.

The Squid And The Whale is released on April 7.

http://www.sonypictures.co.uk/movies/thesquidandthewhale/index.html