Premiere - 10/01/2005
"Baumbach has crafted this tale out of real love....[He] tells the story with great fluidity....It's a breakthrough work and one of the year's most powerful pictures."
New York Times - 10/05/2005
"[B]oth sharply comical and piercingly sad....The film's tableau of domestic absurdity is likely to tickle, and also to lacerate, anyone who has either raised a child or been one."
Rolling Stone - 10/20/2005 3.5 stars out of 5 -- "All the performances are flawless....Without jerking tears or reducing the acid content of his wit, Baumbach's humane movie gets under your skin."
Film Comment - 09/01/2005
"Filled with a tremendous compassion for his young protagonists, Baumbach has created a profoundly moving story of boys to men."
USA Today - 10/14/2005
"[I]t is poignant and focused on familial struggle....The young actors' performances are particularly haunting."
Los Angeles Times - 10/16/2005
"[A] painfully funny, semiautobiographical coming-of-age story....Baumbach is exceptionally attuned to the indignities of the situation, and what makes his movie as funny as it is sad is that its brutal honesty emanates from a deep well of empathy and understanding."
Entertainment Weekly - 10/21/2005
"THE SQUID AND THE WHALE becomes its own realistic display of family entropy, as cautionary as it is educational." -- Grade: A-
Sight and Sound - 03/01/2006
"The evocation of the period is note-perfect, with a choice of original music likely to trigger jolts of recognition in viewers..."
Movieline's Hollywood Life - 03/01/2006
"Never maudlin or overly precious, this comedy/drama is sharp, smart and short."
Uncut - 05/01/2006 5 stars out of 5 -- "[T]his charming film swims a complex channel between comedy and melodrama....A great white middle-class film. A truly great one."
Ultimate DVD - 08/01/2006 3 stars out of 5 -- "[A] quirky take on familial breakdown....The performances are excellent."
Total Film - 09/01/2006 4 stars out of 5 -- "SQUID gets its strength from daring to face messy reality head-on."
Wall Street Journal - 04/23/2010
"Mr. Daniels gave one of the best performances of his career, a tour de force of emotional turmoil, intellectual constipation and egomania."
Noah Baumbach's THE SQUID AND THE WHALE is an excruciatingly humane, often hilarious portrait of a disintegrating family in mid-1980s Brooklyn. Set in the stately yet off-kilter neighborhood of Park Slope, the film tells the story of the Berkmans, a quintessentially New York family struggling to keep things together. Family patriarch Bernard (Jeff Daniels) is a published author and writing teacher whose insecurity over his own lack of recognition continues to plague him. Meanwhile, his wife, Joan (Laura Linney), is grappling with her own sense of unsettlement. Their sons, who are caught in the crossfire, express their confusion in different ways: 16-year-old Walt (Jesse Eisenberg) tries to pass off Pink Floyd's "Hey You" as his own hit in the school talent show, while his 12-year-old brother Frank (Owen Kline) begins to explore his burgeoning sexuality and alcoholism. When Bernard and Joan finally decide to separate, the family must confront their unraveling situation head on.
Rarely has family dysfunction been captured so frankly and honestly as in THE SQUID AND THE WHALE. Baumbach claims his film is only semi-autobiographical, but, from the pitch-perfect writing and nostalgic tone, it feels as if we're watching home videos of the writer-director's past. Featuring an outstanding pop-music soundtrack (Bert Jansch, the Feelies, Lou Reed), the film also boasts performances that seem certain to earn end-of-the-year accolades.