The Meyerowitz Stories (New And Selected)

***

Reviewed by: Richard Mowe

The Meyerowitz Stories
"The film is structured as a series of stories with different characters predominating in each but this has the effect of making it seem more protracted than it should be."

There’s something very pleasurable and familiar about Noah Baumbach’s intergenerational tale of adult siblings, as we watch them contend with the influence of their ageing father incarnated by the mischievous and at times malevolent Dustin Hoffman.

It is the second Netflix film of the Cannes Film Festival, after Okja - and it could happily sit on a television screen without much compromise.

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With its New York Jewish humour to the fore, it could easily have been by Woody Allen - and if the ageing auteur had been on form then you suspect it would have been that much slicker and to the point.

Baumbach, especially in the first section, does not know when to stop but there are enough involving turns from the cast - besides Hoffman there is the unlikely pairing of Ben Stiller and Adam Sandler as the two estranged brothers finally coming to understanding and Emma Thompson as the wife contending with the bottle and being given brides by her husband to stay off the wagon (like a swimming pool at their country retreat). Elizabeth Marvel is the daughter whose traumatic youthful encounter with a lecherous family friend seems to have marked her for life.

Hoffman’s Harold Meyerowitz is a typical cantankerous patriarch who feels his work as a sculptor has never been fully appreciated - either professionally or by the family. His marriages have never really worked out either. Danny (Adam Sandler) appears to have inherited the family trait with a divorce from his wife in the offing now that his daughter (Grace Van Patten) has left home for college.

The film is structured as a series of stories with different characters predominating in each but this has the effect of making it seem more protracted than it should be.

Baumbach, you sense, feels very much at home with this material and his work with his actors has helped to paper over any cracks. For a Netflix night in, this certainly passes muster. For a prime slot in a major Festival it may be stretching its worth.

Reviewed on: 21 May 2017
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Comedy drama about a family who gather in New York to celebrate the work of their dad.

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