The Squid and the Whale (2005)
Noah Baumbach demonstrates that he can write and present characters of exceptional complexity in the amusing and thought-provoking The Squid and the Whale - a film about divorce and male puberty. The music combined with the humour of Baumbach's script breaths life into a dense and aching depiction of clearly personal origin. The film is to the point in depicting the lethargic nature of a marriage approaching its end, with the kids being seemingly the only common ground the two adults have as living beings, and the subsequent distress and hardships of the boys is brilliantly explored by the director and the two young actors. Owen Kline is a real find - I suspect he can grow up to become a dramatically more accomplished actor than any of his parents, and Jesse Eisenberg's character will be recognizable for many teenagers from broken homes.
At present, Baumbach's talent as a filmmaker is more as an evoker of memories, emotions and reflection than as a storyteller. In the end, The Squid and the Whale lacks a little focus and force. Even if the divorce as such is well-portrayed, I believe both Jeff Daniels and Laura Linney would have wanted to do more with their characters. There is an abruptness to the way Baumbach concludes storylines and character relations, making The Squid and the Whale a somewhat bumpy and curt, albeit utterly fascinating picture.