Friday, November 30, 2007

Margot at the Wedding

You know I can handle a chick flick, but Margot at the Wedding is a chick flick on speed, (and not that good of one).

The film is centered on Margot (Nicole Kidman) an overbearing and smothering loudmouth who drags her child (Zane Pais) to her sister Pauline’s (Jennifer Jason Leigh) wedding, not to celebrate to to break it up and find some time cheat on her husband (John Turturro) to bone an old school chum (Ciarán Hinds).

Subplots of the film include the averageness of Pauline’s fiancé Malcolm (Jack Black), the cute and seductive neighborhood girl (Halley Feiffer), suggestions of child abuse and incest, and the increasingly odd and crazy argument with the neighbors over the fate of the family’s favorite tree.

Aside from being really, really boring, and having large stretches that may make your brain explode, the film has several flaws. First, and most problematic is the character of Margot herself. The movie (much like Halle Berry‘s character in Things We Lost in the Fire) pushes all bounds of common sense and logic to make her as unlikable, but not downright evil, as possible.

Since she isn’t evil we can’t hate her, but since she is such a bitch we can’t like her either and so we are left not caring about what happens to the central character in the film; that’s bad. Margot’s constant behavior and demeanor, which become more predictable and cartoonish as the film goes on, also narrows the choices of where the plot can go to two choices - alone and miserable or forgiven and redeemed. I won’t tell you which the film choices, but I will say it’s as unbelievable as the rest of the film.

Also an issue is the style of which the film was shot. Several sequences are shot with little or no light and are hard to decipher what is happening (it doesn’t help that the plot makes little to no sense during many of these moments). The film tries to base it’s story on the illogicality of female logic, and so leaves anyone without ovaries completely in the dark. Now I’m all for use of shadow and light in interesting ways (The Third Man, Clint Eastwood‘s later films like Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby) but when it’s done poorly it doesn’t look artistic; it looks crappy and juvenile.

The film tries to balance a horrifically depressing tale with some comic zingers from Jack Black, but his character is more of a prop to get the sisters together and discussing their issues than a real character and so much of his performance is wasted. Oh, and the zingers, sadly, don’t have much zing.

Are the performances good? Well, yes, but only because the film is designed solely as Oscar Bait to get these actresses Oscar nods. Scenes exist throughout the film not because they are part of the narrative but only to show off the talent of the stars.

Get a testosterone patch before you go in because this film has more estrogen than any Lifetime mid-afternoon double feature. It’s a complete loss and disappointment only existing to shell for some Oscar gold.

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