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The Squid and the Whale in our magazines

THE MOVIE: The Squid and the Whale

Jeff Daniels • Laura Linney • Jesse Eisenberg
• Owen Kline • William Baldwin
DIRECTOR: Noah Baumbach

Break up… THE CONCEPT:
Set in Brooklyn, New York, in 1986, Bernard (Daniels), a self-absorbed academic and author, and his restless wife Joan (Linney) an up-and-coming author, have given up on their marriage, leaving their two sons, Walt (Eisenberg) and Frank (Kline) to grapple with their confusing and conflicted feelings. Loosely based on Noah Baumbach’s childhood.

U.S. RELEASE: October 14 2005, Nationwide • Rated: R


“I’m very close to my parents, and I used them as a resource, but these aren’t my parents in the movie, it’s reinvented, it’s fictionalized.”

“I auditioned for the movie seven times before I found out it was autobiographical. I had the script for over a year not knowing that, and I always liked the script on its own [merits].”

“Noah and I both felt it was important for me to go and talk to his father. Some of the movie is based on him and some isn’t. It was helpful and harmful. When I went back into rehearsals, I started doing an impression of him like Rich Little. It was just horrible. So I found a couple of things that personalized it, and all of a sudden some of the mannerisms and cadences with the way he spoke started to filter in.”

“I didn’t meet Noah’s mother. Everything I needed was really in the script. I had a few photographs that were given to me, and I read an essay that she had written. I had an understanding of where I thought she was, what it was like to outgrow a relationship, and the conflicting emotions that go with that.”

WILLIAM BALDWIN (Ivan, Joan’s boyfriend):
“It was literally a couple of weeks before they started shooting when the script came to me. I liked the part and I loved the script, and they had assembled this fine cast that I really wanted to work with. Laura and I started in the business together, and I have a great admiration and respect for her.”

“I think [the divorce] was a learning process for everybody and for me the movie’s about that too. I think the movie is deliberately unsparing, but at the same time, I have a lot of affection for everyone in it.”

DANIELS on his love scene with Anna Pacquin, who played his daughter in I’ll Fly Away:
“It was a strange day. Thank God she’s not 12 years old anymore. I mean, you just go, ‘Thank God there are no geese outside the windows [he laughs]. She’s 22 going on 40 now. As actors you learn how to forget the past, certainly by the time they say ‘Action!’”

LINNEY on using humor to deal with the subject of divorce:
“Situations become so out of control, there are so many weird influences and it becomes surreal, then absurd, and then there’s humor.”

“I think the ad in the New York Times says, ‘You’ll never find more humor in a divorce drama,’ and we’re not trying to make it more accessible, it’s really the way it is; it’s life.”

Written by Judy Sloane. Back to top

Visit the official The Squid and the Whale site
Images above © Samuel Goldwyn Films &
Sony Pctures Entertainment
Feature © 2005 Visual Imagination.
Not for reproduction.

Film Review, #662, October 2005 cover

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