Chicks Netflix Pick• The Meyerowitz Stories
Reviewed by Chantelle Dusette
Written beautifully by Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha and The Fantastic Mr Fox) The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) tells the story of The Meyerowitz, a dysfunctional Jewish, New York family, with Harold (Dustin Hoffman), a would be prominent sculptor, if it weren’t for the success of his good friend LJ Shapiro (Judd Hirsch) as the patriarch. His eclectic mix of children is comprised of, the borderline depressed, would be musician son, also with so much potential, never worked a day in his life Danny (Adam Sandler), the emotionally frigid, slightly spaced out and kooky daughter Jean (Elizabeth Marvel) and finally, Matthew (Ben Stiller) the twinkle of his father’s eye, making loads of cash and living L.A real estate agent, the favoured, golden child, and half brother to Danny and Maureen. The cast is topped off with Emma Thompson, as the alcoholic, erratic, Maureen, and current wife of Harold Meyerowitz, and Candice Bergen, as Julia, one of Harold’s ex wives and mother to Matthew. Grace Van Patten also delivers, as Danny’s caring daughter, who on first glance appears normal in this rather eccentric family, but after viewing her first film project, all, is not as it seems. This offering is not too dissimilar to The Squid and The Whale (driving, and parking in particular is definitely a theme) with Jeff Daniels and Laura Linney, as a warring writer couple, going through a divorce with two children, one has a familiar face in Jesse Eisenberg, again, set in New York but that makes this story, no less touching.
Each character in The Meyerowitz Stories, has as much importance as the other, nothing at all in this tale feels throw away, a perfect ensemble. Four short stories, that effectively focuses on Harold, the faded, would be famous sculptor, with talent, slightly grandiose and manipulative father, and the efforts of his children, Jean and Danny (who is at a crossroads, with his daughter having left for college, and his marriage crumbling), who feel completely ignored and overlooked, work to get their fathers’ work exhibited, in a display of their desperate attempt to win his approval. Harold and Maureen are thinking of selling the New York family home (owned by Harold) in favour of the country home he shares with Maureen (owned by her), which causes Danny some concern, as he is currently residing on the sofa (in New York). Control, success, love and loss, the roles and dynamics within the family crystal clear, the clan end up thrown together unexpectedly, and this opportunity allows each to have a voice, and all have the space to work out their differences.
A simple but intricately told story that moves at a really good pace, you are at ease with the characters, easily identifiable and you understand the journeys for each, I would also add that as realistic, and honest as this is, there is a sense of redemption in this film, with some lessons being learned. An all-round master class in story telling, with a formidable and impressive cast.