Neurotic New Yorkers on Netflix create marvellous moments
The Meyerowitz Stories (15) Verdict: Intense but funny
THIS week’s best new release is a film available to watch in your home, as long as you have the online service Netflix.
The Meyerowitz Stories, written and directed by Noah Baumbach, features a stellar cast including Dustin Hoffman, Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, Emma Thompson, Candice Bergen, Rebecca Miller and Adam Driver — with original music by Randy Newman, to add some gold to the tin lid.
It is about a large, dysfunctional family, its narrative driven by quickfire, neurotic, New York Jewish wit. The film is divided into titled chapters, most of them notionally concentrating on a different character, beginning with talkative, tightly-wound Danny Meyerowitz (Sandler), a house-husband who is about to wave his daughter off to college.
Just as she is spreading her wings, his are being clipped; he is moving back in with his dad, Harold (Hoffman, left), a sculptor who has never had the accolades he thinks he deserves.
Hoffman is marvellous at conveying the existential hurt of an elderly artist who feels unfairly overlooked and whose grumpiness cannot conceal his enduring need for approval. He gets precious little from his alcohol-sodden wife (Thompson).
Danny has a sister, Jean (Elizabeth Marvel), but their father has never made any secret of his preference for their half-brother, Matthew (Stiller), a showbiz accountant in LA. Old Harold’s flaws as a parent come into even sharper focus when he is hospitalised and seems about to die. This is intense but it is also very funny. Baumbach is terrific at marrying searing poignancy with sharp comedy — and watching Hoffman, 50 years after his film debut, still feels like a
Marvellous: Dustin Hoffman