Film Review: The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)

With The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected), Noah Baumbach delivers another great comedy drama. Strong performances and excellent writing combine to generate a absorbing picture. 

Harold Meyerowitz is a retired sculptor and a dysfunctional father. His adult children try to organise an exhibition of his work, but are hindered by their relationships with each other, Harold’s wife Maureen, and Harold himself…

Writer-director Noah Baumbach tackles family dynamics with his latest film. The Meyerowitz Stories centres on ageing sculptor and his three middle-aged children. Viewers get to explore various dynamics as the film progresses, although the action is focused on Harold and his two sons.  

The relationship between the family is revealed at a good pace. Baumbach is careful not to reveal too much too early. Yet it works well that viewers hear about the prodigal son before he appears on screen. What also functions well is that the audience see interactions between Harold and his sons separately, before these siblings share screen time. 

Characters in the film are developed in a natural way. Viewers are presented with initial archetypes, but these develop in a convincing manner, and are fleshed out beyond any stereotype. The writing is fantastic; characters converse in a natural manner. There is welcome humour among the serious conversation and dramatic realisations. The film could have done with more of Jean; there is certainly more to this character than the snapshot which is revealed.

Themes of extended family disagreements and a father with shortcomings play out well. The Meyerowitz Stories reaches a conclusion that feels realistic, rather than a forced ending. Dustin Hoffman is great, as are Adam Sandler and Ben Stiller. Yet it is the women who intrigue in supporting roles. Emma Thompson is wonderful, and Elizabeth Marvel stands out as Jean.

Noah Baumbach delivers yet again, showing a continuing talent for astute writing and assured directing. 

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) is being screened at BFI London Film Festival in October 2017. The film will be released in selected cinemas and on Netflix on 13th October 2017.

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