This new serio-comedy from writer/director Noah Baumbach is about a writer who goes to the wedding of her distant sister.
Starring Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Jack Black, Margot at the Wedding unravels a thicket of family neuroses, allowing for some notable portraits, especially from Kidman and Leigh.
Margot Zeller (Kidman) is a short-story author from New York coming back to her family home with young adolescent son, Claude (Zane Pais). That's where her sister Pauline, a fine Leigh, is soon to be wed to Malcolm (Black).
The very candid Margot doesn't think Malcolm is right for her sister, as the artist/musician isn't showing signs of having any steady gigs. For a while there is some spirited relational strife set forth by Margot and Pauline with emotional damage ensuing.
The scripting by Baumbach doesn't feel as confident as his rumination on the effect of divorce, The Squid and the Whale, as melodrama engulfs the latter half of the proceedings. And, the final moments offer something that could be considered lightly upbeat.
Integrity in the drolly austere come through, like the sardonic nature of daily life, through the acting of Kidman, vulnerable, but less self-contained, as well as the edgy, yet touching Leigh, remembered for her work in Georgia. Their scenes together provide a complex, thoughtful friction.
Black humorously observes Baumbach's language and mood, while Pais etches out the troubles of a growing youth. Other supporting players include Ciaran Hinds as Margot's paramour colleague and Halley Feiffer (also of The Squid) as his promiscuous daughter. And, John Turturro turns up as Margot's husband.
The look of Margot at the Wedding is hardly glamorous, given the seaside eastern setting, nicely foreshadowing the absurd pain in another dysfunctional clan.