The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
dir-scr Noah Baumbach
prd Noah Baumbach, Eli Bush, Scott Rudin, Lila Yacoub
with Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, Dustin Hoffman, Elizabeth Marvel, Grace Van Patten, Emma Thompson, Judd Hirsch, Rebecca Miller, Candice Bergen, Adam Driver, Gayle Rankin, Justin Winley
release UK Oct.17 lff, US 13.Oct.17
17/US Netflix 1h50
The Meyerowitz Stories
Family reunion: Van Patten, Stiller and Sandler

hoffman marvel thompson
london film fest
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
The Meyerowitz Stories Like a Woody Allen movie, this episodic film chronicles the collisions between members of a lively Jewish family in New York, blending sharp-edged humour with several much darker themes. Much of the film is downright hilarious, as these people rarely listen to what anyone is saying, talking over each other and obsessing over their personal issues. But there's also a lovely sense of what holds them together.

When he splits from his wife, Danny (Sandler) moves back in with his cantankerous sculptor father Harold (Hoffman) and his loopy fourth wife Maureen (Thompson). Failed artists themselves, Danny and his sister Jean (Marvel) have always felt like second-class children around their father, especially compared to their high-flying business manager brother Matthew (Stiller) in Los Angeles. But Danny's 18-year-old daughter Eliza (Van Patten) is showing promise as a budding filmmaker. And when Harold ends up in hospital, the family is forced to come together, physically at least.

The film is assembled in chapters that interrupt each other like the characters do. The overriding story is the relationship between Danny and Matthew, half-brothers who don't know each other as well as they probably should. So their forced cooperation raises issues they've never had to deal with. It certainly doesn't help that their father so relentlessly protected Matthew, to the exclusion of Danny and Jean. And now for the first time these three are starting to act like siblings.

Performances are deadpan, as if each character ignores everyone else and simply charges forward. Most scenes are blinding onslaught of tangential dialog that's impossible to disentangle, but it reveals the characters. Hoffman has the liveliest role, making it clear where everyone gets this attitude. He's hilariously random, focussed on his own issues to the exclusion of everyone around him. And Thompson gives him a run for the money stealing scenes with Maureen's flights of fancy.

Meanwhile, Sandler and Stiller find surprising chemistry that's even better in their scenes with Marvel. And Van Patten is never intimidated by these acting veterans, offering the only character who lives in the present day. With three generations spiralling loudly through their issues, it's rather difficult to get a grip on what this film is trying to say. Perhaps it's a comment on how creativity is passed down, emerging differently with each person. Or maybe it's an exploration of the ties that bind us to people we're not sure we actually like.

cert 15 themes, language, violence, nudity 27.Sep.17

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