Margot at the Wedding (Baumbach, 2007)

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Margot (Nicole Kidman), the anti-heroine of Noah Baumbach’s frigid dark comedy about family traumas and savagery, remains a muddled monster of spite and venom throughout. She’s a walking minefield of passive aggression brimming with ego and short on confidence, both as a parent, a sister, and possibly a wife. Most of all Margot’s a catalyst for doubt, infecting her sister’s wedding plans by opening up old family wounds with ease and never fully recognizing the damage she’s done. Baumbach parallels Margot’s subtle destruction with Harris Savides’ bleached out hand held camera, a strange juxtaposition of style and content. The proceedings are so tiresome one wonders why Baumbach felt this particular story, one of self hatred being projected onto family and friends, needed to be told in the first place. It seems he’s already fleshed out this material with better results in The Squid and the Whale, a far superior character study which gives equal voice to child and parent. The performances in Margot at the Wedding, while all valiant attempts considering the downer material, spring with life only when given the chance to see hope in each others eyes. Being a rabid fan of Baumbach’s earlier, more sunny fare like Kicking and Screaming, it’s disheartening to see his relentless pursuit of this special brand of cynicism start to overwhelm the films he makes. Baumbach’s final grasp at hope in the last scene of Margot at the Wedding feels both dishonest and tacked on, completely out of place with a steady demon like Margot.

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