DVD REVIEW: The Squid and the Whale

Movie •••• Picture/Sound ••• Extras •••
Painfully sad but sometimes laugh-out-loud hilarious, The Squid and the Whale is writer/director Noah Baumbach's depiction of his parents' unimaginably messy divorce, which he experienced as a teenager. The movie's peculiar genius lies in showing small moments of absurdity that defy the odds by ringing absolutely true, thanks in part to spot-on performances by Jeff Daniels and Laura Linney. This low-budget movie shows its pedigree in its soft and grainy images, but the loving recreation of mid-1980s Brooklyn shines anyway. Extras include a half-hour conversation with essayist Phillip Lopate and a featurette that together answer all the obvious questions in fine style. Baumbach, preferring to avoid discussing each scene in a traditional commentary, instead offers up 50 minutes of observations over stills that change every few minutes - a bad idea, since the results are needlessly tedious. [R] English, Dolby Digital 5.1; French, Dolby Surround; letterboxed (1.85:1) and anamorphic widescreen; dual layer.