A few days ago, I wrote about the fading quality of Shameless, a series about a dysfunctional family. It's been a success for Showtime, now in the middle of its ninth season, with its 100th episode on the horizon. One way it retains its popularity is by giving even the most dysfunctional members of that family some likable qualities. I think this works against the show in one major area: William H. Macy's Frank should not have any likable qualities, and the show was at its best in the early years when Frank deserved none of our sympathies. But who am I to argue ... Shameless is still on the air, and Macy has four Emmys for his role.
Margot at the Wedding is a movie about a dysfunctional family, and in comparison to Shameless, it is an example of "Be Careful What You Wish For". The main focus is on two sisters, Margot (Nicole Kidman) and Pauline (Jennifer Jason Leigh), who haven't spoken in some time. The more we get to know them, the more we understand why they don't much like their sibling. Both Margot and Pauline are insufferable ... that Kidman and Leigh are both excellent in the film almost makes it worse, because they are willing to be crappy people in ways that Shameless doesn't allow William H. Macy. The other characters range from pitiful to awful. There are a couple of teenagers who are almost human, although you can't help but feel their familial environment isn't going to be much help as they grow into adulthood.
I like honest movies about family trauma, or at least, I think I do. And I liked the other Noah Baumbach movies I've seen (The Squid and the Whale, and especially Frances Ha). But for whatever reason, Margot at the Wedding irritated me so much that I quit caring about the characters. It has the opposite problem from the later seasons of Shameless ... no one is sympathetic. I couldn't wait for it to end, and it was only 91 minutes. #716 on the They Shoot Pictures, Don't They list of the top 1000 films of the 21st century.