Margot at the Wedding (2007)
|Genre(s): Comedy / Drama|
|Paramount Vantage || R - 92 minutes - $29.99 || February 19, 2008|
|Reviewer: Elyusha Vafaeisefat || Posted On: 2008-02-13|
Writer(s): Noah Baumbach (written by)
Cast: Nicole Kidman, Jack Black, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Ciarán Hinds, John Turturro
Theatrical Release Date: November 16, 2007
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I did my best to go into Margot at the Wedding with the mentality that I must give Noah Baumbach a second chance after the disappointment I felt from The Squid and the Whale. However, I am human and I was not able to help myself from thinking about the annoying dialogue from The Squid and the Whale taking on a new form in Margot at the Wedding. Still, I am in the minority considering that Baumbach was nominated for an Oscar just a few years ago for writing The Squid in the Whale.
The premise is rather simple: Margot (Nicole Kidman) along with her son Claude (Zain Pais) go into to visit Margot's sister Pauline (Jennifer Jason Leigh) as she gets ready to marry Malcolm (Jack Black). What I honestly don't like about Baumbach's writing style is that there is way too much dialogue. I feel that in film, the more dialogue that is present (especially in a smaller film), the more the film seems to tell you the obvious. For example, if you see a scene of a child who is upset after watching his parents fight, you would assume that is why he is upset in the next scene. One would not describe in dialogue something to the effect of "Well I am upset because I just saw my parents fight and I really am affected greatly by it." and so on. As an audience, we can fill in the blanks. Show the child in his room by himself and we know why he looks the way he looks. In the case of Baumbach's films, I feel that he describes way too much. Because of all that, I think the film becomes much more of a stage play rather than a film.
I guess it is hard to discuss the acting in the film because I think it is the screenplay that affects the film the most. Kidman's performance is not very good at all. She has maybe 2-3 scenes that actually come off as genuine but for the most part, she in unable to break away from the scripts overly descriptive manner. Jennifer Jason Leigh, who is one of the most underrated actresses working today, also suffers from the same problems as Kidman. Though I must say that she does have many more scenes that are good when compared to Kidman.
Jack Black is of course, Jack Black. He provides humor in several scenes but ultimately is not able to pull off some of the more dramatic scenes. I think he tries to add his style of humor to some of the more dramatic scenes but I don't think it works in this film. Even great character actors like Ciarán Hinds and John Turturro cannot save the film from falling flat on its face. I think Turturro's character was the only genuine character in the entire film but of course he only had about 6 minutes of screentime.
The film has a great cast and a talented filmmaker. Yes, I still think Baumbach is talented. I just think that he needs to do a better job in cutting out dialogue that does not further the story in any kind of way. I think sometimes writer/directors tend to fall in love with their own writing and that makes it hard to cut out lines. Some directors like Woody Allen just have a talent for dialogue heavy films while others simply do not. It does not mean you cannot write but I would like to see Baumbach take a different approach to his filmmaking.
The only real extra on the DVD is a 12 minute conversation with Noah Baumbach and Jennifer Jason Leigh. They both discuss the film, the actors and some of the film's themes. Though it seems like it's nothing more than just a husband and wife (the two are married in real life) patting one another on the back for their own work.
The DVD also comes with two theatrical trailers for the film as well as some previews for other films.
.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.
The film is presented in 16:9 widescreen with a very nice transfer. The film actually looks good throughout as Baumbach gives his film the gloomy "it's about to rain" look. Harris Savides work as cinematographer on the film is definitely one of the stronger aspects of the film. I felt that Savides' work in Zodiac and American Gangster were both Oscar worthy works. It's a shame that both those films were overlooked during awards season.
In terms of audio, the film comes with a Dolby Digital 5.1 surround with an option for the same track in Spanish.
Unfortunately, I have to add Margot at the Wedding to the list of disappointing Noah Baumbach films I have seen thus far. As I mentioned before, Baumbach has the talent, I just think he needs to trim down his dialogue or at least make it more interesting than what it is now. With Noah Baumbach's filmmaking ability and a cast like Nicole Kidman, Jack Black, Jennifer Jason Leigh, John Turturro and Ciarán Hinds, it takes a lot to make a sub-par film and that is exactly what I think Baumbach does with Margot at the Wedding. I am sure Baumbach has plenty of die-hard fans who will enjoy the film a great deal. I just happen to be a fan who is consistently disappointed with his recent work. Then again, I am sure I am in the minority.
Note: Images contained in this review were not taken from the DVD and do not represent the true quality of the picture.