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</script></div>{/googleAds}With 2006's The Squid and the Whale, Writer/director Noah Baumbach explored fractured familial relationships with a particular brand of brutal honesty that, if handled incorrectly, had the potential to come off as whiney, pretentious theater. The dialogue had to feel real and the characters had to seem true-to-life. It worked then - even garnering Baumbach a screenwriting Oscar nomination - and fortunately with his latest, Margot at the Wedding, the formula works again. His talents lie in his ability to tap into that cruel awareness we all have with the not-so-pleasant aspects of human nature. Divorce, narcissism, and general domestic tumult are themes that course the veins of his stories. Some viewers find Baumbach's statements too real to endure, others look for the biting humor and find comfort knowing that when the credits roll, there's no way their own lives can be so screwed up.

The title character of Margot at the Wedding is a tightly wound writer played by Nicole Kidman who is defined by her acid tongue and wounded soul. She's as destructive to others as she is fragile in her own psyche. Her marriage is falling apart, she's an overbearing mother to her son, Claude (Zane Pais) - who is quickly entering adolescence - and she's just generally incapable of absorbing and enjoying the experience of life. As the film opens, Margot and Claude are reluctantly attending the wedding of her free-spirited sister, Pauline (Jennifer Jason Leigh) with whom Margot hasn't spoken in quite some time. Margot has strong opinions about Pauline's loser of a hubby-to-be (Jack Black) and never leaves those feelings unspoken.

What follows is a disastrous reunion as the family self-destructs under the weight of Margot's poisonous venom and her sister's crippling insecurities. The siblings are tough on one another as they poke at open wounds undoubtedly caused by a marred childhood yet seek comfort in each other's arms when the going gets too tough. It's a frustrating thing to watch, but the beauty of it is that it all feels so real. It's like being caught in one of those quirky bouts of ill chemistry we're thrust into when our loved ones marry.

None of the characters in Margot at the Wedding are likeable yet all are certainly real. Credit Baumbach for giving us one of the rare instances where such despicable characters are handled in a way that we actually like them and even root for their success - despite all the things they do to be unsuccessful. The handheld camera that follows just over the shoulder of the characters, gives us a perfect perspective to feel as if we're involved, yet not close enough to seem like intruders. We relate to the vivid depiction of how family members interact and the quirky ways people define themselves in society. It isn't pretty, but neither is life sometimes.

Let's call Baumbach the master of domestic dysfunction even though Wes Anderson might have something to say about that - as with Squid and Margot he's built quite a solid pictorial foundation of the dynamics of family interaction. His scripts are sharp and succinct but also brutal and painful with no bells or whistles, only pure emotion and talent. And that's certainly the case with Margot at the Wedding. You'll find yourself squirming at the awkward comedy, and laughing at the uncomfortable tragedy. It's one of the rare films that so effortlessly controls the emotions of the viewer. Not everyone will like it, but no one can deny its emotional impact.


DVD Details:

Screen formats: Widescreen Anamorphic 1.85:1

Subtitles: English; French; Spanish

Language and Sound: English: Dolby Digital 5.1

Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access; trailer; cast and crew interviews.

* Conversation -
o Between Noah Baumbach and Jennifer Jsaon Leigh (13:00)
* Trailer
o 2 different trailers for Margot at the Wedding

Number of discs: - 1- Keepcase Packaging