Dir/Writer: Noah Baumbach | Cast: Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, Dustin Hoffman, Emma Thompson | 91min | US | Comedy
So what’s it like to have a creative Dad who undermines you? You’ll find out in Noah Baumbach’s latest serio-comedy vying for the Palme d’Or this year at Cannes. He made the film with the intention of showing it on the big screen but it was picked by Netflix whose logo was booed during opening titles adding fuel to due to the controversy surrounding the streaming channel at the competition this year.
Ben Stiller stars as well-off LA lawyer Matthew Meyerowitz, the half brother of failed musician Danny (Adam Sandler) and non-entity Jean (Elizabeth Marvel) who live close by to their father a minor sculptor, Harold Meyerowitz (subtly played by Dustin Hoffman) whose party piece is bringing the conversation back to himself.
Harold’s retrospective show brings the family back together in the Brooklyn home he shares with his fourth wife Maureen, a scatty alcoholic played amusingly by Emma Thompson. But the show is put in jeopardy when Dad finds himself in hospital after a minor brain trauma that seems to make his personality issues even worse.
Fortunately the estranged siblings find a certain solidarity as the struggle with the inevitable fallout as they are all desperately seeking approval from their Dad as they all operate from a position of shame; Danny feels a failure because he’s not an successful musician artist, although he’s a good father. Matthew feels a failure because he’s not an artist despite being a financial success; Jean seems to have emerged unscathed from Harold’s negligent parenting, never achieving anything in an act of self-sabotage: they’re all latently angry with each other, but Baumbach’s clever script makes sure there’s plenty of dry humour to lighten things up and even open wrestling. Ben Stiller gives aThis is a film that will feel poignantly personal for many.
he siblings find a certain love-hate solidarity as they struggle with the inevitable fallout, all operating from a position of shame; Danny feels a failure as an artist, although he’s a good father. Matthew fails by not being an artist, despite being a financial success; Jean has emerged from Harold’s negligent parenting never achieving anything, in act of self-sabotage; and they’re all latently angry with each other. Baumbach’s clever script ensures there’s plenty of dry humour, and even open wrestling, to lighten things up. With entertaining turns from Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson and a soulful Adam Sandler as the underdog, this is a film that will feel poignantly personal for many.MT
OUT ON NETFLIX | CANNES REVIEW | THE PALME DOG AWARD FOR THE WHITE POODLE