Divorce isn’t a pretty sight and The Squid and the Whale earns points for not shying away from it’s subject matter. It handles things in a deftly sardonic manner and gets the feeling of adolescents trapped between two feuding parents just right.
It also happens to be pretty funny too.
Basically the movie consists of the misadventures of two children while their diluted parents (Jeff Daniels and Laura Linney) deal with the ups and downs of joint custody. While the parents are wrapped up in their own affairs (literally), the kids try to adjust to their new familial arrangement with varying results.
If you were a child that had to go through your parents getting divorced (like me), a lot of this movie will ring true for you. I also admired the way that the director Noah Baumbach (who also co-wrote The Life Aquatic) didn’t pull any punches when it came to addressing teenage sex and chronic masturbation and showed what’s it’s like being a teenager, warts and all.
The movie runs a scant 80 minutes and leaves a lot of plot threads hanging, but it captures a lot of real moments and Baumbach’s observations are pretty on the nose. While it may be laugh out loud funny, it’s also kind of depressing, which may limit your number of viewings, but overall, The Squid and the Whale is a bittersweet look at an uncomfortable subject and is especially worth a look if you’re the product of divorce.