So the 1st entry into our DVD Club and the DVD for April is:
The Squid and the Whale
This 80’s set movie, tells a semi-autobiographical tale (on the director’s part) of a family finding their way through a divorce. Both academics, the parents of the piece despite their best matter-of-fact approach, fail miserably to devise a clean and hospitable break. Caught up in their own selfish ends, locking themselves into a weekly routine and using the children as pawns in one-up manship both parents are oblivious to the deep impact their separation is having on their young boys. The eldest of the boys, doting on his father, bitter towards his mother seeks to live up to the ridiculous and flawed standards of his father. Jeff Daniels plays a monster of a man, conceited and blind to the concerns of others, he remarks how he is a predecessor of Dickens, bathing in his son’s admiration, no idea of the impact he has on the teenagers personality.
The youngest boy is equally confused, frustrated and retaliating to disturbing effect. The movie is a heavy watch. It is no Kramer v Kramer where you are conflicted by your sympathy for the characters involved, this is a dissection of self-serving individuals, their values failing in a time of crisis, acting irrespective of the consequences for others. Performances all round are excellent, characters are laid bare through pointed exposition (the opening tennis game sets the themes effortlessly) and a well paced story. There is some sense of progress toward the end, but only very limited, this is merely a cross-section of a story that continues, which includes the very fact that the director brings it to film form years later. The effect of this is that the ending feels insignificant. The movie is still a resounding piece of work, well worth your time.