the squid and the whale
About the nasty dissolution of what seems to be a happy, smart family, The Squid and the Whale serves wit and humor with equal dose of sadness and desperation. What I liked about the movie is that the scenes never devolve into melodrama. As a viewer one is urged to read between the lines and to observe the characters on screen: the subtle competition between the parents who are both writers, the loyalty of the kids, the father’s struggle to keep afloat and put up a front, and the mother’s emotional aimlessness. The effect of the divorce also proves to be disastrous for the children as they suddenly learn about the miserable life of their parents. In the beginning, they both look at them with awe but by the end, armed with details of cheating and deprivation, they finally see them as flawed human beings.
Much of the discussion about the movie, I eventually found out, revolve around the title The Squid and the Whale and its significance to the story. The squid and the whale in the title simply come from one of the children’s happy memory of going to the Natural Museum with his mother. The teen relates how he had always been frightened of the diorama. Most viewers saw the squid and the whale as a symbol of the parents devouring each other. It probably is. But personally I thought it symbolized life itself. The teen, after making his own decision for the very first time, runs out of the hospital and goes to the museum. He ends up in the same place that he used to hate and there, before him, looms the gigantic Squid with its tentacles snaking in and out of the whale’s ferocious teeth. This time though he doesn’t cover his eyes but bravely stares at the creatures. Of course at that point of the story he has seen and has been through far scarier things. He has graduated into adulthood.