The Squid and the Whale is a riveting drama about a disasterous divorce and its effects on a small Brooklyn family. Written by Noah Baumbach, this diminutive drama only has a runtime of 81 minutes and this film seems even shorter because, well let's face it, Baumbach can seriously write a script.
The Berkman family has problems and Baumbach makes these high tension levels between the parents very apparent in his opening scene where the family is attempting at a nice game of tenis. However, this "nice" tenis game is short lived after the father, Bernard Berkman (played by Jeff Daniels), loses his cool and starts off on one of his many-to-come f-bombs and the mother, Joan Berkman (played by Laura Linney), is afraid that Bernard is setting a bad example for their two children: Frank, the youngest son (played by Owen Kline), and Walt, the eldest son (played by Jesse Eisenberg).
These characters created by Baumbach are brought to life exceptionally by all these wonderful actors. In this film Jeff Daniels plays the role of his lifetime. Daniels p lays a washed-up author who cannot seem to decide if he is happiest with his kids or sleeping with the students he invites into his house. Do not let this fool you, Daniels really does play a fascinating character with a viable dilema- his divorce; unfortunately, Daniels will probably be more remembered for his role as Harry Dunne in Dumb and Dumber.
Despite Daniles excellent preformance in this film, it really is the youngest actors in this film who really shine. Owen Kline and Jesse Eisenberg are the true stars of this film. Owen Kline plays the youngest son who has some, along with his older brother, fairly socially awkward moments and he does so with such magesty! Jesse Eisenberg plays the most static of the characters and is the one the audience will relate to the most. Even if an audience member has never had divorced parents, they will still be able to relate to Jesse's character in some other manor, such as a new girlfriend, and this is just some of the beauty of Baumbach's talent.
Baumbach is a very skilled artist in his profession and I believe he deserves more recognition. Maybe if he were to pare himself with some better known actors? I don't know, maybe like Ben Stiller? Oh wait, I do believe that's Greenberg, which I am excited to see now after seeing this film. The way Baumbach actually holds the camera, it shakes just enough to give this drama a much needed spice. Not only does the ever-so-shakey camera keep the audience's attention, it adds to the "shakey" circumstance the Berkman family is in. Baumbach is a master in his art and worked perfectly with this low budgest drama. I definitely reccommend this film for those of you who are into the whole "dramedy" thing.