Margot at the Wedding
Difficult film, yet masterfully performed
There is one thing thatís sure about this film; the characters are not meant to be liked. Baumbach goes out of his way to make sure the audience detests nearly every character in the film. Margot is selfish and off-putting. The only way she can booster her own self-esteem is by knocking down others; she laughingly comments that her sister cannot make eye contact with others, that her son smells bad and is growing stupid, and in more than one case accuses a potential attacker of being retarded. Pauline and Malcolm (the fiancť) donít fare much better either; each of them are severely complicated individuals whose flaws seem to inflate in Margotís presence. Whenever one of these characters finally breaks down and reaches out for help, it is far from sympathetic. It is pathetic.
These difficult characters, however, have lead to some extraordinary performances, particularly from Kidman and Leigh. Baumbach has successfully tapped into Kidmanís natural frigidity, which so often hampers her other performances. Kidman herself is completely committed to the part; her Margot is tightly wound, always wavering between laughter and tears. Thanks to Kidman, Margotís incessant putdowns come off a clear warning signs of a breakdown about to occur, not needless bickering. Leigh's Pauline is just as tightly wound as Margot, yet fully conscious of her and her sisterís faults and the effects it has on those around them. Leigh plays Pauline as the reluctant voice of reason, a feat that is subtle and astonishing in itself.
There are a lot of problems within MARGOT AT THE WEDDING, and most of them are intentional. If the viewer is willing to accept that these people are fatally flawed and will never change, they will be the better for it. For some, it will be insightful and artistic. For others, a lot of intellectual mumbo-jumbo that doesnít go anywhere.
Full review at http://newmanscorner.blogspot.com