MARGOT AT THE WEDDING
Written and Directed by Noel Baumbach
Starring Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jack Black
There’s a scene in Noah Baumbach’s dysfunctional family tragicomedy, Margot at the Wedding, where a character notes, after finding out his fiancé
is pregnant, that he hasn’t had the moment yet where he realizes he isn’t the most important person in the world anymore. This self-centered malady afflicts most of the characters – especially the adults – throughout the course of the film, leaving the viewer feeling a bit frosty and in the near dark, much like the hazy, naturally lit dusk that permeates film’s look.
The story involves the titular character Margot (Nicole Kidman), a successful fiction writer who, with her son, visits her less successful and previously estranged sister Pauline (Jennifer Jason Leigh) for her wedding to Malcolm (Jack Black), an out-of-work schlemiel. Each character – especially the adults – carries excessive emotional baggage, highlighted by Margot’s Zelig-like mania, that causes repeated conflicts, especially between the two sisters. However, most of the scenes destined for conflict cut just before the simmer to a later moment when all seems forgiven and forgotten; that’s the lesson, I guess, when it comes to family. Compared to Baumbach’s great The Squid and the Whale, with its poignant depiction of the moment one realizes that his parents are truly imperfect beings, Margot at the Wedding, while featuring some top-notch work from Ms. Kidman, leaves a much less indelible mark.