The Squid And The Whale, based in great part on writer-director-actor Noah Baumbach's childhood, gives a deep and intimate look into a family in crisis. The peek inside is so intimate that I sometimes felt as if I was intruding into the lives of real people, watching them struggle to resolve personal dilemmas and family dysfunction.
At times I wanted to close the curtain because the view was too raw, and so personal.
Jeff Daniels and Laura Linney play Bernard and Joan Berkman, parents to Walt and Frank. Both parents are writers; Bernard is chasing- and failing to find- the success he had with his first novel, while Joan is just beginning a satisfying and exciting career. Jealousy, despair and insecurity play pivotal roles in the development of these characters, and kept me interested and invested in their outcomes. I alternated between hating Walt and Frank, and wanting to embrace them. The kids get caught between intellectual parents who use emotions as weapons, and struggle to break free from the tug-of-war to find their own path.
The Squid And The Whale is a no holds-barred look into dysfunction. It isn't easy to watch, and may even be too disturbing to some. But is feels real, and genuine. The acting and writing are superb.