Oscar Watch, again

On Wednesday I tried to get Stacie to see Capote with me. She was in the mood for a comedy, so we wound up seeing ...

The Squid and the Whale (original screenplay)

I think I have to expand my definition of "comedy," because this movie, while good, didn't seem to fit the bill. While there were funny moments, I spent a whole lot of time feeling sorry for, angry at, or disgusted by the characters - but I was always interested in them.

Also, I wanted more of a resolution regarding the youngest son, Frank. The parents know about his problems (which I won't detail because the movie's still in theaters and I wouldn't want to spoil it for anyone); will they break through their haze of blame and selfishness and work together to help him?

The older son's story is satisfying, though. Have you ever met somebody who lives entirely inside his own perceptions, regardless of whether they mesh with reality? That's the horrible egotism Bernard has passed on to his son Walt - but somehow, the only perceptions Walt has have been given to him by his father. This trait comes through in many ways - like when we see that both of them feel that if one has the capability to do something, it's the same as actually having done it. If Walt thinks he could have written a beautiful song, it shouldn't matter that Pink Floyd already wrote it ... and if Bernard has the ability to work at saving his marriage, it's as if he actually did, and his ex-wife shouldn't have any grievances because it was obviously all her fault. It was fascinating to watch Walt take as gospel truth everything Bernard says, when he really ought to be old enough to see that his dad's a pretentious jerk. In this respect, Frank is more mature than Walt - but is his mistrust in his dad influenced by his apparent Oedipus complex?

Sorry, I'm just thinking out loud (if you can call the clatter of computer keys loud), because it was interesting to see the very prickly ways in which these characters interact. Everything felt genuine, from the awkwardness of high-school relationships to the seven-hour agony of knowing in the morning that heartbreaking news is going to arrive at the "family conference" that afternoon. The only thing that rang false was tennis pro Ivan's dialogue, because, come on, who really ends every sentence with "my brother"? But I'll spot them one irritating verbal tic.

It might not be a comedy by my standards, but it's a great movie nonetheless.

1 comment:

AE said...

I didn't go into this expecting a comedy, but it did make me laugh out loud several times. Some of Bernard's early lines, and the poem Anna Paquin reads in class, are hilarious. But the family scenes quickly grow agonizing. And yeah, it did feel genuine. Even the scene where Walt confronts his classmate about his dad's affair with Walt's mom - it could've been played for laughs, or could've been tragic or violent, but it was just extremely awkward. Which is how it would be in real life.