CFS presents ‘The Squid and the Whale’

Emily Schademan

“The Squid and the Whale” does not appear to be the most fitting name for a film that doesn’t even go near a large body of water, but for this film it is perfect.

The title refers to a diorama of a great squid fish fighting a whale in the Museum of Natural History that appears at the end of the film. It is also a metaphor for the relationship between the film’s two antagonists, Bernard Berman and his wife Joan. They perpetually fight with each other but also need one another.

The semi-autobiographical seriocomedy is based on director Noah Baumbach’s parents: Georgia Brown, a film critic for the Village Voice, and Jonathan Baumbach, a novelist. The film recounts the messy divorce of the couple who had been married for 18 years, six of which were tumultuous.

Bernard, played by Jeff Daniels, is a pompous, arrogant intellectual who believes that he is mentally superior to everyone he meets. He is worshipped by his eldest son, who recites everything his father says back to his peers and to his mother.

Joan, played by Laura Linney, is blamed for the breakup because of the numerous affairs she had prior to the end of the 19-year marriage.

The youngest son, Frank, aligns himself with his mother because he is tired of his father’s intellectual badgering. Despite these alignments, the blame lies equally on both of the parents.

Set in the 1980s, the film features music from Pink Floyd and The Cars, as well as Bryan Adams’ “Run to You” and the love theme from “Risky Business.” It is music that is sure to send anyone back to the mid-’80s.

Despite the apparently depressing subject matter of this film, it is in the genre of comedy for a reason. The director approaches the dysfunction of the family with both humor and sensitivity. Amusingly awkward situations and quick comebacks fill the screen, while Frank’s (played by Owen Kline, son of actors Kevin Kline and Phoebe Cates) beer drinking and lewd language are sure to incite laughter from even the toughest critic.

“The Squid and the Whale” will be screened four times in the Connelly Center Cinema: Saturday at 7 p.m., Sunday at 3:30 and 7 p.m. and Monday at 7 p.m. Admission is $3.50 for students with ID and $5 for everyone else. The Monday showing only will feature speaker Paul Swann, chair of Temple University Film and Media Arts Department, who will provide an introduction to the film and lead a discussion afterward.

For more information call the communication department at x9-4750 on weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., or consult the CFS Web page: