`Margot' family spectacle collapses into neurosis

Review F

December 14, 2007|By Michael Sragow | Michael Sragow,Sun Movie Critic

That crunching sound you hear is Ingmar Bergman turning in his frigid Scandinavian grave. In Margot at the Wedding, the writer-director, Noah Baumbach, wants to ape the Bergman of The Passion of Anna and Persona and Saraband. But he never conveys that his dramatis personae have anything of interest to say or that he's seen something in their existential slapstick that justifies spending an hour and a half in their hapless company.

After triumphing as a writer-director in his nerve-rattling, tragicomic film about a child's view of divorce, The Squid and the Whale, Baumbach may have felt liberated to amp up another family spectacle of in-grown nuttiness and sorrow. But as a result of his spurious confidence, he turns his characters into "characters" - the kind of dithering neurotics you might find even harder to take on screen than in real life.

Margot at the Wedding (Paramount Vantage) Starring Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jack Black, Zane Pais. Directed by Noah Baumbach. Rated R. Time 91 minutes.

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