VOD film review: Margot at the Wedding
Ivan Radford | On 26, Aug 2015
Director: Noah Baumbach
Cast: Nicole Kidman, Jack Black, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Ciaran Hinds, John Turturro
Watch Margot at the Wedding online in the UK: Amazon Prime / iTunes / Prime Video (Buy/Rent)
After the sublime The Squid and the Whale, Noah Baumbach returned with Margot at the Wedding, another intimate insight into dysfunctional family life. It follows Pauline (Jason Leigh), who is about to marry Malcolm (Jack Black in a rare serious turn). Witnessing their knot tying is her estranged sibling, Margot (Kidman), separated from her spouse (Turturro) and mother of one. He’s called Claude. Poor kid.
In reality, Margot is only there to look up ex-lover and fellow writer, Dick (Hinds). He lives up to his name. While Frances Ha is winningly warm, sympathy has often been a rare commodity in Noah’s universe and Margot at the Wedding is a textbook example – everyone is so detestable. Slobby slackers, self-righteous bitches, they’re all quick to point out each other’s flaws: “He’s not ugly. He’s completely unattractive.” The sniping continues as the cast play off each other with superb sincerity, constructing Etna-high tension as the nuptials creep closer on the calendar.
Needless to say, the happy day never comes: each one is a painful disaster. Caught on an unobtrusive camera, the candid, skeleton-filled fallout is at once hilarious and devastating. Tenderly treading on eggshells, the uncomfortable screenplay is only let down by its structure: where Squid was perfectly self-contained within its small ensemble, Margot is more populated. Not that engaging with any of the characters was ever on the cards; the audience are left as detached as Margot herself, determined to identify with everyone’s flaws yet empathising with no-one. Labelling those around her with Asperger’s syndrome, the unspoken truth carries significant weight. If you can stomach such subtle awkwardness, Margot at the Wedding is a compelling car crash to witness.
Margot at the Wedding is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a Prime membership or a £5.99 monthly subscription.