Writer/director Noah Baumbach follows 2005’s tale of warring parents The Squid and the Whale with another dysfunctional family dramedy, this one focusing on more nebulous conflicts with more players but more vague stakes.
Lacking the central metaphor and the kids’-point-of-view (as well as early ‘80s setting) of his last film, Baumbach’s Margot at the Wedding has a less clear throughline and fewer laughs that aren’t of the uncomfortable variety, putting a viewer on much shakier ground here.
Every character here is crazy, and by “crazy” I mean has some kind of behavioral issues or emotional problem they’re keeping secret, like, you know, pretty much every real person you know, but none of them fess up to or communicate these problems, nor does Baumbach telegraph them. Rather, they’re simply revealed in the announcements of life decisions or unpopular opinions, in sudden bursts of crying or screaming. It’s up to the audience to diagnose them, or at least put up with them.
This certainly makes for an immersive film-going experience—you’ll likely be just as irritated with and angry at the thoroughly unlikeable characters as they are with one another—but it doesn’t exactly make for a very fun one.