Noah Baumbach and Jennifer Jason Leigh
Photo: Brian Ach/
Writer-director Noah Baumbach, who explored the effects of divorce in his mordantly funny 2005 film, The Squid and the Whale, returned in 2007 with Margot at the Wedding, another exquisitely observed portrait of family dsyfunction. Nicole Kidman plays the title character, a New York writer with a troubled marriage who travels to the wedding of her estranged sister, Pauline (Jennifer Jason Leigh). This ostensibly conciliatory gesture soon comes to look more like sabotage, as Margot questions Pauline's choice of fiancé (Jack Black, providing welcome comic relief), picks a fight with the neighbors, and lets it slip that Pauline is pregnant. Margot might be unbearable if Baumbach and Kidman hadn't imbued her with such pathos: She's manipulative, she's controlling, but above all, she's heartbreakingly unhappy. The other characters are equally flawed but sympathetic; they remind us of the ways we sometimes savage those we love.