Margot At The Wedding

Margot At The Wedding


Reviewed by: Chris

I assume you are normal. Whatever that is. Would you ever stop to question that?

Margot is a fish out of water. She would be ‘normal’ back home. Her pond is Manhattan. Intellectuals. ‘Nice’ people. Successful. Words of several syllables that easily slip into popular psychobabble - but in an acceptable sort of way. Social affirmation obscures our faults. The world after all is as we, and our friends, understand it to be. A self-selecting reality.

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For Margot’s sister Pauline, the self-selecting, self-affirming, ‘normality’ is different. She lives in the countryside. Fulfilment would be a down-to-earth lifestyle with someone who thinks she’s great. That man in her life, played by Jack Black, is a very ordinary sort. He doesn’t even have a proper job. But they seem content. They will marry under the family tree. In the garden.

As two worlds collide, flaws that could have been overlooked come nastily to the surface. Margot can only return Pauline’s sisterly love in a cold, cerebral way. She becomes easy to dislike. We soon doubt her sincerity. Pauline looks more and more pathetic against her accomplished sibling. She becomes easy to feel sorry for. Blood is thicker than water. But it exerts unbearable strain.

In the best scenarios, romantic comedies and feelgood movies, love always triumphs over dysfunctionality. If only life was so reliable, with the uplifting coup of family bonds in such films as Little Miss Sunshine or The Darjeeling Limited. Those movies provided us with reassuring escapism. And I admit they were more satisfying than the rather bleak Margot At The Wedding. But it is this film that gives niggling pause for thought.

It is easy for box office comedy to turn on family difference that ultimately heals. But it is the less than fairytale endings that we have to deal with in real life. Not funny. Maybe just a bit painful. Like estranged family. Hurts that don’t heal in a neat two hours of celluloid.

Margot At The Wedding is not a great movie nor a comfortable one. It looks at the fragility of one’s persona - or definition of normality - as used to interact with society. With society’s forgiving and less forgiving parts. Parts that are perhaps within our own families. But it does encourage you to think. And there are too few movies out just now that do that.

Reviewed on: 27 Feb 2008
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A neurotic woman undermines her whole family and her sister's impending marriage.
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Anton Bitel **

Director: Noah Baumbach

Writer: Noah Baumbach

Starring: Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Zane Pais, Jack Black, John Turturro, Flora Cross, Ciarán Hinds, Halley Feiffer, Michael Cullen, Enid Graham, Sophie Nyweide, Justin Roth

Year: 2007

Runtime: 92 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US

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