I fondly remember when I first viewed August: Osage County. I virtually stood up and applauded due to the satisfaction I felt at the credits. Although it is not as widely praised as the movie I am about to comment on, it showed that it had a great script, precise use of characters, and dialogue so engaging that it almost felt I was stood there in the room, agonisingly wanting to adjourn the conversation and provide my impression of the situation. Welcome people, to The Meyerowitz Stories. A film proudly selected for the Palm d’Or.
The film builds itself around the emotional circle of three siblings converging in New York to see their prickly artist father Harold Meyerowitz (Dustin Hoffman), who is undeniably dealing with the prospect of his fading legacy in the industry. The film builds the plot by telling off-centre stories from the perspective of each sibling, which formulates each act. You have Danny Meyerowitz (Adam Sandler), Matthew Meyerowitz (Ben Stiller) and Jean Meyerowitz (Elizabeth Marvel) who all, in some manner, interject in each other’s lives whilst dealing with their father.
The family is heavily dysfunctional, which forms part of the scintillating dialogue that feels incredibly natural and reactionary. This entire notion, that a family is suffering from efforts to become artists but are overshadowed by a selfish father, provides unique comedy that is difficult to replicate in the manner that The Meyerowitz Stories does. What maintains this film at a certain level is the emotional entanglement between each sibling and the different techniques of coping with family. You have one sibling that remains silent but partakes just because it is family, another that seemingly presents love for his father and is his primary go-to carer, and then you have the obvious grudge-bearing sibling, who has distanced himself so much due to his success that he feels that he is above it. The beauty is, despite how they cope, they all have particular gripes and grudges.
The Meyerowitz Stories is not necessarily a comedy whereby you are accidentally knocking over your drink. Director Noah Baumbach has constructed the dialogue and the setting in such a way that you find it oddly amusing throughout. It is not a movie that has gags, but more dialogue so compelling that you have the odd chuckle at the end of a sentence or smirk at underlying sarcasm. You become hooked with the conversations, and with each one, it feels like the tension is gathering.
The emotional dialogue would not have been possible without fantastic performances. For someone that has become a Hollywood mystery, Adam Sandler out of nowhere has produced a career-elevating performance that we could not have even fathomed was coming. It makes you beg the question as to what has he been doing all this time? Sadly, we all knew he had it in him, too. There is nothing funnier than watching Sandler characters get so frustrated that they shout. His scenes with Ben Stiller are glorious to watch, as the two showcase their comedy-drama which we have missed down the years. The two pretty much lead the movie, but every actor involved in this are marvellous to the point where the dialogue is worth savouring. My only gripe with the movie, which always manages to irk me, is that it is a bit too long for what it is.
The Meyerowitz Stories is on Netflix and I highly advise that you take the time to watch it. Even if it’s just to see Adam Sandler randomly provide a great performance.
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