December 12, 2007 > Margot at the Wedding
Margot at the Wedding
By Shari Wargo
Margot at the Wedding, a film directed by Noah Baumbach, is an independent piece. The film is artistic in its setting, characters, and development, but the plot is not complete and characters are introduced then not fully developed. The film, through its absences, is an abstraction.
Margot (Nicole Kidman) travels with son Claude (Zane Pais) to visit her sister Pauline (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and attend her wedding. The film starts a bit rough. We see the back of Claude's head as he walks through the train; it feels as though we have come in during the middle of a scene. Claude sits down next to his mother and the viewer is then re-adjusted to a normal introductory scene. Upon arrival, the rocky relationship between Margot and Pauline becomes clear as Margot picks away at everyone else in the film, including herself.
Malcolm, Pauline's fiancˇ (Jack Black), exhibits awkward, situational and frustrated humor but even more so, a lack of hope. The characters are all dysfunctional. Margot is simultaneously cruel and loving. Malcolm lacks self respect. He loves music and wants to be successful, but fears it. He loves Pauline yet cheats on her because he lacks the self worth to deny another. The dysfunction of this film creates an extreme family reality, possibly to give a raw feeling to the film, but in doing so, the creator forgot to give the back bone of this film some substance.
Throughout the entire film, Margot and her sister talk about "Becky" who we can only assume is either a friend or sister. We know that there is animosity between Margot and Becky, but no reason is given. Toward the end of the film, as the pair approaches Becky and their mother, Margot abruptly walks away from assumed confrontation leading to an inconclusive understanding of their relationship.
During a dinner scene, Margot upsets a man that we can only assume is a family member because his character was never developed, that she thinks his son is autistic. We are introduced to Pauline's neighbors, the Voglers, whom Margot accuses of mistreating their daughter. Between Margot, and the family tree that the Voglers want Pauline to cut down, there is a lot of tension with these intimidating neighbors. Then, they suddenly just aren't in the story any more, leaving us to wonder why they were introduced just so the tree is cut down and then never seen again.
Nonessential scenes and comments are rampant. For example, Margot's pregnant sister wears pajamas with the top unbuttoned while she walks around and moves her arms about while talking to her fiancˇ. This was totally unnecessary to the scene. There were other items throughout the film that did not add to the characters or to the story line, and it all just distracted from the real point of the film. It all seemed out of place and just thrown in there.
Overall, Margot at the Wedding has grand potential; the actors did their job well. Production was well executed with wonderful sets, and most scenes are appropriate to the mundane yet distant and crazy feel of the film. The script however could have done more to develop the characters, their purpose and a finished story line rather than emphasizing unnecessary sexual content.