The best of Baumbach
A leading figure in American independent cinema, Noah Baumbach has continued to impress audiences and critics alike with his catalogue of quirky comedy-dramas. Often collaborating with long-time friend, director Wes Anderson, and romantic partner, actress Greta Gerwig, Baumbach has delivered films that reflect on turbulent family relationships and the uncertainties of growing up.
Noah Baumbach’s career has spanned almost a quarter of a century and his soon-to-be-released new feature comedy ‘Yeh Din Ka Kissa’ has already gotten the critics twitching with anticipation. We take a look at the five best Baumbach films to date.
Kicking and Screaming (1995)
Baumbach’s directorial debut saw his first exploration into the emotional intricacies of reaching adulthood. The film follows a group of recent college graduates who attempt to latch on to campus life before they are forced to face the realities of the adult world. One of Baumbach’s finest comedic feats, the film is genuinely witty and particularly quotable. Featuring an ensemble cast who gel naturally on screen, ‘Kicking and Screaming’ is a nineties indie treasure.
The Squid and the Whale (2005)
Widely lauded as Baumbach’s finest film, ‘The Squid and the Whale’ sees Jeff Daniels and Laura Linney play a middle-class New York couple navigating a bitter divorce. A semi-autobiographical film based on Baumbach’s own childhood, Jesse Eisenberg and Owen Kline also star as two brothers caught in their parents’ crossfire. A piece that confronts childhood feelings of adulation towards parental figures and the implications of divorce, the film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.
‘Greenberg’ marks Baumbach’s first collaboration with actors Ben Stiller and Greta Gerwig. Stiller plays the awkward titular character Greenberg, who returns to Los Angeles to house-sit for his brother. Quickly striking a connection with the family’s dog-walker, Stiller and Gerwig together portray two lonely people who have no real direction in life. An emotionally raw film sees some of Stiller’s finest onscreen work. A notable score from LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy also accompanies.
Frances Ha (2012)
‘Frances Ha’ is a story of platonic modern love, showcasing the heartbreak experienced when the pressures of adult life overwhelm the spirit and strain our closest relationships. Co-written with and starring Greta Gerwig, 27-year-old dancer Frances feels left behind in life after she is unable to move to her dream New York neighbourhood with best friend Sophie. Chronicling a period of uncertainty in her life, Frances is left in limbo as her friendship erodes and opportunities escape her. Inspired by French New Wave cinema and the work of Woody Allen, Baumbach constructs one of the most relatable and honest character studies in modern cinema.
Mistress America (2015)
Again collaborating with Gerwig, ‘Mistress America’ continues themes explored in ‘Frances Ha.’ A young college student, played by Lola Kirke, struggles to fit in to her new surroundings and contacts her future step-sister in search of guidance. The younger supporting cast deliver mature, hilarious performances that balance out the angst that sparks between the central characters. A sweet comedy-drama; the film fits perfectly within Baumbach’s catalogue.