Cinema Consults: The Squid and the Whale

Physician's Money Digest, October 2006, Volume 13, Issue 10

The Squid and the Whale (2005)

When you wereyoung, were youever caught at yourfriend's house whiletheir parents werearguing? Do youremember how awkwardand uncomfortablethat felt? That's what it feelslike when you watch the Squid and theWhale—like you are overhearingsomeone else's very private familybattles. Although you can't look awayas the drama unfolds, its honestymakes you feel squeamish. It is rare tosee a film shot from the perspective ofchildren that so honestly paints theirparents as desperately human andflawed. The story follows the divorceof Bernard and Joan Berkman and theresulting break-up of their family.Sides are taken, venom is spewed,and blame is placed. However, nocharacter in this film is blameless, andevery character is shouldering theirown demons. It is a raw and bitingstory, and the acting is superb, especiallyyoung cast members OwenKline and Jesse Eisenberg. The directingis minimal given the subject matter,but very effective in terms of creatingan intrusive atmosphere. Thesexual overtones in this film are overt,and the dialogue is harsh at times, soI would not recommend this movie forany younger viewers. For those seekinginsight into the painful repercussionsof divorce and family dysfunction,this is a film worth watching.

Rating: 3

Lisa A. Tomaszewski, editor of Physician's MoneyDigest, is currently working on her PhD in literatureat Drew University in New Jersey. She is anavid fan of film and has taught a summer filmcourse at Fairleigh Dickinson University. Shewelcomes questions, comments, or suggestionsfor future film reviews at 732-656-1140 ext 195or ltomaszewski@ascendmedia.com.