Margot at the Wedding (2007) Directed by Noah Baumbach
I've never got the attraction of Botox. It seems that women (and men) of any age indulge in a little exaggeration of facial and body parts. The results to me usually looks like someone's gone 10 rounds with Muhammad Ali. Puffy eyes and cheeks, cartoonist lips often out of proportion to the face. It seems the preserve of Hollywood actresses who turn 40 that someone persuades them that a bit of Botox will make them look younger and sexier. This is my unending feeling towards Nicole Kidman nowadays. It seems in the last couple of years she's fallen under the Botox spell. She certainly was pumped full of the stuff in Nine. Is my disappointment in Kidman down to the fact that she has been forging a career as a serious actress, obviously talented, yet now she falls into the vain business of just looking great for the camera? Is Kidman not above such vanities?
Baumbach is in awe of Kidman in Margot At The Wedding, possibly in her last pre-Botox movie, she looks beautiful. Unfortunately Baumbach gives Kidman's Margot such an unpleasant air we never care for her uptight character. She's also outshone in the picture by Jennifer Jason Leigh and Jack Black who's characters seem far more interesting and ultimately dysfunctional. I'm a fan of Baumbach and enjoyed his The Squid And The Whale picture a lot. Margot At The Wedding has similar themes of family strains yet this time round he can't decide weather this walks the type-rope of comedy or serious drama. It's a picture that doesn't add up to much and doesn't convince in either genre of comedy or drama.
Kidman's Margot is the center of the picture but my preconceptions of Kidman the person dominates my view of her Margot. I often feel a certain contrived feeling from her which I cant shake. Is she in Margot At The Wedding to show us she can do indie movies? Baumbach should have given Kidman more, instead he just gives us (and her) an unsympathetic bumble of nerves. Margot At The Wedding never gets over this. There are some great scenes in this film and good performances, but overall it's hard to care for this picture. All you can say at the end is "So What?"
Writing about and depicting ordinary lives of women is still an undertaking with large risks, as The Guardian reminds us today. The threat comes from reality here, because when women tell the truth we call it confessionalism. Neat.
Margot At The Wedding escapes this little feminine problem because it was written and directed by a man. Noah Baumbach. (Nick said that he probably fucked all his leading ladies. I said: for that he would be too shy.) Maybe it is because this film really should work like a lived and experienced confession that Noah's view into Margot and Pauline isn't entirely deep. We can see that these girls were fucked up from the start, that they are almost cool, lefty, creative and hurt, but we see this all from the outside as if from the perspective of a little admiring brother.
In the end the women in this film appear so distant, unfair, selfish and nondescript that the only sympathetic characters are the men. Jack Black plays an endlessly cynical yet loving Malcolm and the son of Margot (Nicole Kidman) is also a more rounded character than the women.
But I know this was supposed to be a movie about Margot and her sister.
Margot writes fiction, but she uses her family's life as a source for her stories. To people around her this seems unfair. Pauline thinks it is stealing. A better version of this dilemma is presented by Woody Allen in Hannah and Her Sisters (1986).