*** ½ (out of 4)
Noah Baumbach is probably best known for his 2005 work The Squid and the Whale: a film that, aside from winning near-universal critical acclaim and an Oscar nomination, cemented his status as the master chronicler of the bohemian lifestyle. As with all of Baumbach’s movies, the basic plot of Squid – two kids cope with their parents’ divorce – didn’t matter as much as the vibrant character portraits it sketched out: Jeff Daniels’ arrogant, failing writer, Laura Linney’s sexually-unsatisfied mom, Jesse Eisenberg’s antisocial nerd, and Owen Kline’s insecure adolescent. With them, the overall film succeeded in providing a riveting, hilarious depiction of a family in crisis – and in so doing also offered a pointed look at the petty things smart people will do to protect their egos.
Now, 12 years and seven films later, Baumbach’s latest family saga, The Meyerowitz Stories, has returned to the setup that once served Baumbach so well.