Margot at the Wedding review by Jackass Tom

During a recent screening of Margot at the Wedding, I started to question, what goes into a movie’s rating. Or more importantly what makes a movie something worth recommending. Should it be the pure 90 minute enjoyment one receives from the movie whether or not it is stupid and inane? Or should a recommended movie be a milestone in artistic achievement either in camerawork, storytelling, or acting? These are the questions I wrested with upon completion.

So where do the questions begin? Margot (Nicole Kidman – maybe the best performance I have seen her in) and her son Claude (Zane Pais) head many miles north of their apartment in Manhattan for her sister’s wedding. Her sister Pauline (Jennifer Jason Leigh) is, on the surface, less successful than Margot. Pauline inherited their parents house, which seems to irritate Margot, and she has also not kept it up in the best of shape. She is marrying Malcolm (Jack Black) who is a guy who is either too smart to work for someone else or too lazy to get a job.

The wedding itself seems to be a very private affair. The only guests the movie really shows are Margot and her son (although her husband, Jim, played by John Turturro shows up momentarily) which lead me to believe they were one step away from just doing it in Vegas.

This movie really tore me in a few different directions. On one level, Margot at the Wedding is difficult to watch. Margot herself is a self-loathing, hypocritical, arrogant, conceited, bitter, two-faced, judgmental, backstabbing, betraying, intellectual-wannabe… ok, I need a breather; she’s a terrible human being. She picks fights, she tells other people’s secrets, she judges people out loud and makes them feel like crap. She gets into shouting matches with her sister, her husband, her boyfriend, her son, and pretty much anyone else she comes into contact with. The things she says to her own son; things that cause the poor kid to cry… I mean I really hated her! Her character makes the movie difficult to “enjoy.”

But on the flipside, Nicole Kidman transformed herself perfectly into this self-important monster. Her character is filled with the subtle nuances of Margot to such a point that I found myself falling into that rare filmic state where I actually forgot I was watching a star, and thought I was watching a character. Every moment I hated her, I realized how brilliantly she created the character. In comparison, Jack Black played the usual Jack Black character. It was essentially the same character in Orange County only without the brother. Or the same character in School of Rock only without the fake teaching job. I knew I was watching Jack Black and was thoroughly disappointed every time I saw him on screen because he never seems to do anything different. But Kidman’s performance was spectacular.

When it comes down to it though, as positive as Kidman’s performance is, its cancelled out by fact that the character she creates makes the movie difficult to watch. So I’m giving it a 5, which sits somewhere in the middle. The inner battle between the Yin and Yang of this film give it that almost unfair balance but what can I say? I could see myself re-watching it only to see if I despised her less, but I can easily find myself not enjoying the second viewing even more than the first. For anyone looking for an uplifting, enjoyable flick this is not the movie for you. I can only say this movie should be viewed by those of you out there who either want to see a great acting performance or cause pain upon yourself.

5 out of 10 Jackasses
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