The Squid and the Whale

Watch The Squid and the Whale

"Joint custody blows."
  • R
  • 2006
  • 1 hr 21 min
  • 7.3  (89,363)
  • 82

The Squid and the Whale, a 2005 Indie drama-comedy, is a film that explores the disillusionment of two children, Walt and Franky Berkman, as their parents' relationship starts to crumble. The story is set in the 1980s, in Brooklyn, where the Berkman family resides. The film opens with an intense tennis match between parents Bernard and Joan Berkman, played by Jeff Daniels and Laura Linney, respectively. The match is witnessed by their two sons, Walt (played by Jesse Eisenberg) and Franky (Owen Kline), who are playing musical chairs with their friends nearby. Throughout the match, the boys seem emotionless and disinterested, a hint of the family's dysfunctional dynamic.

As the title suggests, the film focuses on the parallels between the separation of the Berkman family and the exhibit of a giant squid and a whale at the American Museum of Natural History, which marks the beginning of the end of the family unit. While Franky identifies more with the shy, vulnerable squid, Walt identifies more with the powerful and intimidating whale, hinting at the personalities of the boys themselves.

Bernard is an aging author and a self-proclaimed literary genius, while Joan, his wife of over a decade, is a Humanities professor. The tension between the two grows after Joan becomes more successful in her career, leading Bernard to become both petty and resentful. The situation escalates as Bernard is having an affair with one of his students, Lili (Anna Paquin), which leads to Joan, in turn, starting an affair with her tennis partner, Ivan (William Baldwin).

The audience is made aware of the separation of the parents early on, and as a result, their interactions throughout the film are intense, uncomfortable, and often hostile. The children, Walt and Franky, struggle with the dissolution of their family, and occasionally, their emotions boil over.

Walt is a teenager whose newfound teenage angst leads him down a path of rebellion against his father. He starts dressing like his father, referencing his writing style, and even acquires a copy of his father's failed novel, hoping to publish it himself. Franky, on the other hand, is a preteen who struggles with acne and bed-wetting. As his parents' separation worsens, Franky becomes more erratic and distant, and the audience can sense his pain and confusion.

The film also explores the challenges of moving between homes, with joint-custody becoming a significant source of tension between the children and their parents. The film carefully showcases the effects of divorce on the children, and the unfairness of having to choose between parents, as well as the strain that it puts on their relationships.

The Squid and the Whale, touched with moments of dark humor, is a poignant commentary on a modern American family and its disintegration. The film is an intimate portrayal of two boys' struggles to come to terms with their parents' separation, their desire for normalcy, and their loss of innocence. The Squid and the Whale is an excellent showcase of the range of emotions that come with the uncoupling of a marriage and how it affects everyone involved.

The Squid and the Whale is a 2006 comedy with a runtime of 1 hour and 21 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.3 and a MetaScore of 82.

The Squid and the Whale
Where to Watch The Squid and the Whale
The Squid and the Whale is available to watch free on Kanopy. It's also available to stream, download and buy on demand at Amazon Prime, Netflix, Apple TV Channels, The Roku Channel, Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube VOD and Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent The Squid and the Whale for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 21 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.3  (89,363)
  • Metascore