The Squid And The Whale 2005

Amazon Instant Video

(41) IMDb 7.4/10

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 to watch on supported devices.

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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

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

63 of 66 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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mr. G. Morgan on 16 May 2015
Format: DVD
Bernard and Joan are an ordinary middle-class couple, unendearingly played by Daniels and Linney,and their relationship isn't so much on the skids as wrecked. It is immoderate to call such a situation as a marital split as tragic, they are so banal. But what I liked about this film was achieved through the wavering, uncertain situation in which their two boys, Walt and Frank, are placed by their parents' divorce. I found myself thinking, not by accident, that in the 40 years since I was at secondary school the world has turned upside down and, in a sense, we accept this: at my school of 1400 people ONE pair of boys were from a split home, and they were brothers. Now fully half would be in this pair's and these two boys' boat - to Stalin a statistic but it seems to be tragic. This is old-fashioned but I have seen too much 'collateral damage' and it is seen here too. Well acted by all, the important thing is not the unspectacular narrative but the way themes arise, such as the boys' conflicted loyalties, always somehow snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, like encountering famine in the midst of plenty. I sensed we are all living in an unhappy world. No answers in this film - we know there is no magic - but it makes one consider quite what a selfish thing divorce can seem to children, and the terrible price modern life exacts as we encounter misery where once was love and romance and desire. Or so it can seem The shibboleth of choice, of satisfaction. No longer. This quiet drama is well acted and absorbing; the modern world has misplaced something important, it is absent here too. Poignantly.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Bluebell TOP 500 REVIEWER on 8 Sept. 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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Rainy Days on 28 Jan. 2015
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
A quite superb film story revolving around the divorce decided between mother and father who are writers ( Laura Linney and Jeff bridges ) and the effect on their children; far from prosaic, the adults doing all the wrong things for the right reasons and the kids responding in the way kids only can. A movie that can be enjoyed by anyone, delightfully balanced - guarded and intelligent yet enticingly humorous. If you are umming and ahhing about this, wait no longer, buy it , it is a lovely cinematic cameo to be enjoyed at any time. A bit of single word swearing in exclamation contributes to the comedic rather than being remotely vulgar, but it is there for those with tender minds to shepherd
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I caught up with this film nine years after it was made, it was recommended and I'd enjoyed Noah Baumbach's later When We Were Young.
I might have thought this equally good if it hadn't abruptly ended at what I estimated as 3/4 of the way through the film. It didn't, it really was 80 minutes long, but to someone closely following the story, it seemed as if the director had suddenly cried "Cut. All go home!" just as we might have been approaching some sort of climax or resolution. So we are cut off in limbo, as it were. A pity since there is some fine acting, very good writing, in this tale of what happens to two young sons of about 12 and 17 when their parents divorce.
You are never quite sure if the director is sending up the rather pompous parents, and you are not allowed to really like any of them, but that does not detract from the enjoyment of watching how the so-called 'best intentions' of these liberal parents are actually harming their young sons.
I was really enjoying it, when BANG! The End appeared on the screen. You have been warned.
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