Brief summary: A brilliant, hilarious, and oftentimes uncomfortable account of how divorce and joint custody affects two brothers, growing up in an affluent Brooklyn neighborhood, in the mid-80s. They are the sons (named after famous authors and poets) of highly intellectual literary parents, who tend to be a bit narcissistic, secretive, and constantly passive-aggressive. Older brother Walt (the always awesome and awkward Jesse Eisenberg) is a pathological liar… spreading lies to impress girls he likes, and his younger brother Frank, aka “Pickle” (Owen Kline) is experimenting with his first feelings of sexuality, and handles them in mysterious and controversial/offensive ways.
Written and directed by one of my all-time favorite writer/directors (Noah Baumbauch, who also wrote and directed the brilliant 1995 film “Kicking And Screaming”), The Squid and the Whale is one of those indie films that you just have to see… it’s not for everyone, and most people might miss a lot of the plot, because there’s so much subtext and great acting, underneath the impressive dialogue. It might go over a lot of people’s heads, and from the research I’ve done in seeing the general opinion, a lot of people just don’t “get it.” That’s ok. You probably will, if you are following this blog.
The first time I saw the film, I caught it about ten minutes in… and it was a mistake, because a lot of the plot is developed in the first 10-15 minutes. I didn’t quite understand what was happening throughout the rest of the film. But then, when I saw it a second time, it all made perfect sense. Be sure to begin the film at the beginning. Chances are, it will enrich your life and make you think, as all the best indie films do.