One feels pretty easy predicting at the start of Noah Baumbach's The Squid and the Whale - after a scene in which a family of four plays tennis and the father keeps hitting the ball so hard that the mother finally gives up in disgust - that divorce is not far away. Note to husbands: Do not try to hit spouse with tennis ball. Be especially wary of said aggressive behavior if that spouse is Laura Linney.
It's Park Slope, Brooklyn, circa 1986, and the Berkman family is splitting up at the mid-swing of the pendulum of the adults' professional lives. On the downswing is the father, Bernard (Jeff Daniels), a professor and once-celebrated writer. Linney plays the mother, Joan, a blossoming writer coming out from under Bernard's shadow. He's been distant and awful, she's had affairs and been generally resentful, so now Bernard is moving to a falling-down house on the far side of Prospect Park while she gets to keep the gorgeous brownstone. The kids, of course, get screwed, with split custody keeping them in one house for half the week and the other house for the rest. Ensuring that things will stay nice and dysfunctional, the kids choose sides, with teenaged Walt (Jesse Eisenberg) sticking with Bernard and even picking up his mannerisms, while younger Frank (Owen Kline) throws in with Joan.
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