Margot at the Wedding: Noah Baumbach at His Best/Worst?

Margot at the Wedding: Noah Baumbach at His Best/Worst?

I dunno who goes to video rental stores any longer, but if you do, lemme know where Margot at the Wedding finds itself filed. With Noah Baumbach attached as the film’s writer and director, there should have been at least a modicum of humor included. But considering the general topic – a family of people who don’t exactly get along – there’s a somber tone, not dissimilar to Baumbach’s other work, that comes through as much as anything else.

Also, it’s not funny. And no, it’s not even Jack Black’s fault. Although, his acting for the majority of the feature’s pretty atrocious. But so are contributions from just about everyone – and especially from Jennifer Jason Leigh and Nicole Kidman when the two are paired in a scene.

Some figure the film as the worst of Baumbach’s career – to date, at least. And while that might be a fair assessment, what Margot at the Wedding seems to want to do is to be a play more than a film.

There aren’t a tremendous wealth of varied settings – the homestead, a friend’s home, the woods, a few cars. That’s about it. But a familial drama’s being played out the entire time. And just like at the last Thanksgiving you went to, there’re secrets, some waster moments and a bevy of ill feelings being bounced back and forth through furtive glances and furrowed brows.

The Kidman character, the older sister, seems a bit overbearing and critical, which allows for a few more flare ups than would otherwise have occurred. But in her never ending diagnosing a modicum of truth seeps out. For the most part, the observations levied on everyone from family members – her son included – to the neighbors come off as a way in which to protect herself. But that’s pretty much how life works; let’s talk about something else, so the focus isn’t on me.

There’s a bit included about a tree being cut down – one that the sisters used to climb as children. Kidman gets stuck in it after climbing to the top as an adult. And yeah, there’s supposed to be some symbolism in there. But no one is gonna care by that point in the film.

It would have made sense that Margot would have been a success. The assembled cast would point to that. But nothing really come of the whole thing. And really, if you talk to any Baumbach enthusiast, this effort’s probably going to be left out of the whole discussion.