Kidman-Margot5The decision to go see Margot at the Wedding shouldn’t be based on the caliber of the performances, the direction or the script, they’re all first rate. No, the decision to see this movie must be based on one factor: Do you want to spend 90 minutes of your life with some of the most disagreeable, despicable characters ever created for the screen? This crowd makes the people in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolfe look like Theodore Tugboat.

The second film from Squid and the Whale director Noah Baumbach is a study in neurosis. Pauline (Baumbach’s wife, Jennifer Jason Leigh) is estranged from her sister Margot (Nicole Kidman), a successful New York based author. The pair put their differences aside when Margot and son come to celebrate Pauline’s wedding at her remote country house. Margot, an outspoken raw nerve of a woman takes an instant dislike to Pauline’s intended, an out of work artist played by Jack Black. For the next ninety-minutes or so Margot plays mind games with the fiancée, her husband, her lover, her sister, the hillbilly neighbors and even her own son.

Baumbach, who seems to specialize in “families in crisis” films, has created an emotionally brutal movie brimming with keen observations on insecurity, neurosis and the deep vein of dysfunction that runs throughout this family. While occasionally cringe-inducing and painful to watch, it is never less than compelling. Watching these fine actors—even Jack Black shines here—explore the darker side of life is fascinating. Even the cinematography reflects the character’s state of mind—it’s gritty, unfocused and dark. Of the performances Kidman is particularly strong, unapologetically delving deep into the ugly side of Margot’s personality.

To break the tension Baumbach peppers the story with unexpected laughs as he cranks up the dysfunctional heat. The result is a startlingly original film that may not be for everyone, but will delight therapists and those with strong enough stomachs everywhere.