Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes
It has the messiness of real life, with uncombed hair and unanswered questions.
You can look at The Squid and the Whale as the truest kind of artistic coming-of-age story: a cathartic piece of self-criticism.
Ebert & Roeper:
That Jeff Daniels character in particular is such a perfect crystallization of a certain kind of intellectual who is so pleased with himself and so incapable of being a decent human being.
The movie's lasting sting belies its brief 80 minutes. This is one cinematic novella that stays with you for quite a while.
Los Angeles Times:
Acutely observed, faultlessly acted, graced with piercing emotion and unsparing honesty, it will make you laugh because you can't bear to cry.
Brevity is, indeed, the soul of wit, and in this case, wit barely starts to describe the value of this dead-on, full-of-life motion picture.
The most praiseworthy thing about emerging writer-director Noah Baumbach's movie is the precise observation and delivery of language.
Dallas Morning News:
There's nothing fun about divorce, but The Squid and the Whale manages to wring humor from a sharp-edged, painfully real separation story that goes straight for the jugular on its way to the funny bone.
In The Squid and the Whale, Noah Baumbach weds his verbal gifts to a fresh visual acuity that brings layers of rich detail to a portrait of a family coping, poorly, with self-inflicted change.
Photographed in a rough-hewn, French New Wave style befitting its alienated characters, The Squid and the Whale significantly fulfills the promise of Baumbach's 1995 debut feature Kicking and Screaming.
New York Observer:
Works very well as a grown-up family entertainment unafraid of all the indelicate details of pubescent indiscretions among children entangled in a supposedly 'friendly' divorce.
The foundation of any good family drama is interesting characters, and The Squid and the Whale is replete with them
The Squid and the Whale is essentially about how we grow up by absorbing what is useful in our parents and forgiving what is not.
Has so much going for it -- including intelligent performances that mesh beautifully, and a keen understanding of how seemingly small moments can rattle the foundations of families -- that you walk away from it feeling it should add up to more.
Minneapolis Star Tribune:
Daniels and Linney do a great job of being despicable without coming off as monstrous, which is what makes the characters credible.
Globe and Mail:
This is a film that reinvigorates the divorce cliche through the steady application of two ingredients: scrupulous honesty and admirable concision.
Both literarily wise and literary in itself, The Squid and the Whale is a fresh rendering of the agony of divorce.
An incisive and intimate tale of a Brooklyn family falling apart as told by the two sons.
Makes up in strong performances and wry observation what it sometimes lacks in narrative drive.
Tender, cruel, and very funny, Baumbach's fourth feature turns family history into a sort of urban myth.