Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Review - The Squid and the Whale

August 17, 2007

The Squid and the Whale - U.S., 2005

Divorce is never easy. Most divorces begin with a promise to be good to each other, to be pleasant for the sake of the children. Perhaps the cordial, pleasant divorce only exists in people’s minds. It certainly doesn’t exist in The Squid and the Whale.

The Squid and the Whale begins at the end of a marriage. A husband and wife, played exceptionally well by Jeff Daniels and Laura Linney, have stayed together too long, and as one’s career begins to pick up, the other’s stalls, if it had ever peaked in the first place. The parents agree to joint custody, and as they try to start their lives over, their children’s lives begin to fall apart.

What’s unique about The Squid and the Whale is that it never completely sides with either parent. Both of them made mistakes in the marriage. The mother was unfaithful, while the father seems to have been busy often. In addition, both of them make mistakes after the separation. The father tells his sons about their mother’s infidelity, and their mother tells them that their father only wants joint custody so that he won’t have to pay as much money in child support. It is tempting to say that neither parent should take care of the children. However, by the end of the film, the children may have chosen to live with one parent over the other, but the losing parent is not presented as violent or abusive, just flawed. The film ends with each character having undergone change, the results of which are unknown. The only thing for certain is that the change is irreversible.

4 stars

The Squid and the Whale is available on DVD.

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