The Squid and the Whale

Director: Noah Baumbach
Screenwriters: Noah Baumbach

Institute History

  • 2005 Sundance Film Festival


The deep understanding of what it is to be caught between the twin towers of childhood, our parents, is the focus of this exquisitely layered chronicle of divorce by Noah Baumbach, The Squid and the Whale. With an intimate appreciation for what makes his characters tick and even more for what drives them to act as they do, Baumbach is a filmmaker of remarkable insight and instinct. It isn't easy to portray characters whose intellectual pretensions fuel their being without succumbing to the easily caricatured anti-intellectualism of most American filmmakers. But the Park Slope Brooklyn family that Baumbach creates—a middle-aged dad, a fading Jewish academic whose literary glory days are well in the past; a mother whose writing career is just beginning to blossom with publications in the most prestigious magazines; and the 16-year-old and 12-year-old sons caught in the crossfire of this rapidly disintegrating marriage—are all nuanced and vitally real.

Transported by wonderfully realized performances by Jeff Daniels and Laura Linney, The Squid and the Whale portrays the dysfunction of family, the frailties of adolescents, and the emotional pitfalls of parenting with an incisive perception and subtlety. This is the kind of filmmaking that shines with clarity and truth and makes us understand how books and ideas can become weapons and how our lives are forever shaped by our families.

— Geoffrey Gilmore

Screening Details

Sundance Film Festival Awards

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