The Squid And The Whale 2005

Amazon Instant Video

(33) IMDb 7.4/10
Available in HD

Noah Baumbach writes and directs this off-beat comedy drama, based on his own experiences as a young boy growing up in the 1980s and trying to deal with his parents' divorce. Bernard (Jeff Daniels) is the father of an eccentric Brooklyn family who claims to have been a great novelist in his youth, but who has settled down to a teaching job in middle age.

Starring:
Jesse Eisenberg, William Baldwin
Runtime:
1 hour 17 minutes

Available in HD on supported devices

The Squid And The Whale

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Product Details

Genres Drama, Comedy
Director Noah Baumbach
Starring Jesse Eisenberg, William Baldwin
Supporting actors Laura Linney, Anna Paquin, Owen Kline, Ken Leung, Jeff Daniels
Studio Sony Pictures International
BBFC rating Suitable for 15 years and over
Purchase rights Stream instantly and download to 2 locations Details
Format Amazon Instant Video (streaming online video and digital download)

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

61 of 63 people found the following review helpful By John Self on 29 July 2006
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The Squid and the Whale is Noah Baumbach's autobiographical film about his parents' divorce. Beyond that I know nothing of the source material or of Baumbach's life - not even which of the two boys in the film represents him - but you don't need to, of course. And the truth of everything in the film beams through it so clearly that you would be in no doubt, anyway, that it came from real life.

Jeff Daniels gives a quietly barnstorming performance as Bernard (pronounced Ber-NARD) Berkman, a lazily bearded New York writer whose literary career is on the skids. His wife Joan (Laura Linney), meanwhile, has been published in the New Yorker and is about to get some good news about her first novel... Berkman is presented to us in toto in the opening scene, playing tennis with the family, the hilariously bitter competitive dad figure as he takes his son to one side and whispers "Try to get your mother's backhand. It's her weak point."

When the divorce is announced, along with joint custody ("Joint custody blows" - for some reason this has been changed on the UK DVD cover to 'joint custody sucks'), elder son Walt takes dad's side, accusing his mother of breaking up the family. He dates Sophie, a charming but unworldly girl who is taken in by his faux-intellectualism (another inheritance from his father), describing her favourite book as 'minor Fitzgerald,' bluffing a discussion and calling Metamorphosis 'Kafkaesque,' and faking authorship of Pink Floyd songs. Younger son Frank, aged - what? - ten or eleven, takes to masturbating and smearing his semen in public places, and to alcohol.

If all this makes it seem utterly grim, that could not be further from the truth. The film is not (or not only) uplifting in a Richard Yates way, for its honesty in portraying misery.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jean La Ranthon on 1 Feb 2008
Format: DVD
I found this film quite deep and at points, quite uncomfortable watching. I felt it painted a real picture of what the two boys went through during their parents divorce from their own perspective more than focusing on the parent's own issues with one another. Both boys seem seriously affected by their parents separation and living different lives in different homes. You really feel for them as they go through the pains of finding out for themselves what to believe in and how to deal with their situation and get some perspective despite their opinionated, narrow minded Father. A good, interesting film. Very different and not what you'd call light entertainment.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Bluebell TOP 500 REVIEWER on 8 Sep 2006
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Sometimes painful often very funny I enjoyed this film with its witty dialogue and satirizing of academic pretensions about English literature criticism. So many US films are geared to the teen market, but this was a film for people who have experienced some of the vicissitudes of relationships and family life. The characters were sympathetically portrayed. Nothing was black and white: every character had good and bad points-just like real-life iteractions between people. All the acting was excellent, especially the two sons.
I wouldn't rate this as one of the greatest films ever made, but it was very well worth buying, and viewing again.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By rob crawford TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 30 Aug 2011
Format: DVD
While there has been no divorce in my larger family (knock on wood!), I see it around me so much that it is often on my mind. It has shattered the lives of several of my closest friends in truly fightening ways. I think this is one of the better dramas I have seen on it, painful and unresolved, with great empathy for all the characters and in the end uplifting if heavy: they all move on in their owns ways, if wounded.

The children are the emotional core of the film, struggling the most openly while their parents pursue their own paths more or less selfishly. You can believe the pain in the children's eyes and though their acts, in fill adolescence and awakening sexuality. The mother, who could not go on the way it was, is indulging her need for a kind of simple lover, disastrously choosing her son's tennis teacher. Even worse, the father cannot look into himself, and acts out the bad guy as he dates a woman his older son has a crush on while the son is mistreating a very nice girl his age. It is all agonisingly sad to watch, and all the introspection that can lead to growing out of it is under the surface in ways that the viewer must interpret it. That makes this a superb indie film in this way, up there with "We Don't Live Here Anymore." Really beautiful.

If I had any criticism, it is that he film begs the viewer to judge the parents a bit too much. Still, even if he is a twit, the father's pain makes him pretty sympathetic. The mother is about to spread her wings and grow professionally, but you wonder about her personally.

Warmly recommended.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Kona TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 22 April 2006
Format: DVD
Bernard (Jeff Daniels) was once a successful novelist; now he's a stuffy, patronizing college professor. His wife Joan (Laura Linney) has been learning to write and has just published her first novel. And she's been having multiple love affairs for years. The two separate and the battle over the kids begins. Big brother Walt idolizes his father and hates his mother, but mostly just wants a girlfriend. 12-year old Frank sides with Mom and has some major problems of his own.

This quirky little film is definitely not the "comedy" it claims to be. It is drama all the way; a thought-provoking and sobering look at divorce. The four leads are uniformly brilliant. Jeff Daniels plays against type as a pompous windbag who likes to dominate people by being smarter than they are. Linney is also excellent playing an evolving wife and mother. The boys who play the sons really steal the show. They both show a lot of depth and maturity in very challenging roles (that are the reason for the R rating). The movie was filmed on location in Brooklyn and Manhattan and has a very real, urban feel to it. The final scene in the Natural History Museum is the perfect ending to a very satisfying movie.
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