If ever there were an award for a movie with the most passive aggressive insults and awkward conversations, done so matter-of-factly, this film would win with no dispute.
Written and directed by Noah Baumbach, this movie continues the same precedent established with The Squid and the Whale (2005): that of suburban, upper middle-class, white intellectuals at odds with each other over their relationships.
The movie isn't very cinematic. It almost works better as a radio drama. It's very wordy, but there are some very interesting things to look at, or be warned of, namely a masturbation scene by Nicole Kidman.
But, trust me, no other sexual act is portrayed on screen, besides this one. However, there is a lot of frank discussion about sex. Not since Closer (2004), Mike Nichols' adaptation of the stage play concerning the love lives of two couples, have I heard such open and honest dialogue about fornication.
Baumbach's bold, brash, and to the point, screenplay was in my top five of best screenplays of 2007. One reason was because no topic here is taboo. Margot talks about molestation over a picnic table. She'll laugh about it on the living room couch. She'll talk about sex with her teenage son, as casually as if she were talking about the weather.
MARGOT AT THE WEDDING concerns Margot attending the New York nuptials of her neurotic sister, living in Long Island, who is about to marry a man that Margot feels she shouldn't. The film is an examination of the sibling rivalry that manifests itself from insecurities that both sisters face, which ultimately gets projected on others, like their children.
The second, and probably best reason, that Baumbach's script was one of my favorites for 2007, was the language and tone of the piece, which is unwavering and unfaltering. His humor is so subtle and dry, yet it never leaves you parched.
It may take you a while to laugh at the jokes, many of which will fly over your head. But, the absurdity, and almost comedy of manners, will not be lost on most viewers by the end. The film is smartly idiotic and intelligently moronic, but that's why it's so winsome.
Jack Black is the scene-stealer of this film as Malcolm, the slubby groom with whom Margot isn't impressed. As in School of Rock and Tenacious D, Black again plays a struggling and aspiring, famous musician who is competitive with any and everyone. Thankfully, Baumbach gives Black great dialogue that he naturally can deliver.
It's probably not the best acting job you'll see, but Baumbach directs Black well and plays to his strengths. He allows Black to give a performance that works perfectly here, and had me laughing, or smiling, in every scene he was in.
At the same time, Baumbach directs Nicole Kidman and gives her a role that is highly refreshing, though some might hate it. Her character is not all together likeable. She's high-minded, arrogant, snobbish, and seemingly gets bitterer as the film goes on.
She's a writer who during a book signing is undermined by one simple question. She takes a dare and tries to climb a tree that will soon be chopped down. She squabbles with her sister, her ex-husband, even her child, moments where she reverts to childish behavior, but childish behavior with an Ivy League tongue, and she criticizes everything.
But, in a weird way, her character is the funniest of them all. Despite her sophistication and elegance, wrapped in T-shirt and jeans, posing so desperately to be the mother-knows-best, or even mother-knows-better-than-anyone-else, it's all just a mask for an inner juvenile, a scared little girl, who perhaps doesn't know how to love anything, even herself.
Four Stars out of Five.
Rated R for sexual content and language.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 31 mins.