You could never accuse Noah Baumbach and Jennifer Jason Leigh of not being deep.
He says: “I find that the line between my creative life and my regular life is blurry.”
She says: “Acting is something that you can’t see. I trust Noah’s sensibilities. I mean, he doesn’t want anything to feel forced or unnatural. He wanted something very ‘naked’ from me.”
Leigh is referring to her character, Pauline, in “Margot at the Wedding,” opening today, which hubby Baumbach directs. The film, starring Nicole Kidman inthe title role and Jack Black, chronicles the emotional battlefield two sisters endure on the eve of Pauline’s wedding.
It’s a messy yet cinematically rewarding outing, complete with just the sort of arguments, misunderstandings and heartfelt pick-me-ups Baumbach won similar accolades for in “The Squid and the Whale.”
Discussing the film, the husband-and-wife team speak from the heart.
“I feel like there are so few films made now about the murderousness of the small interaction between people — how everything that happens on the surface is one thing but what’s really going on is in this subterranean mine field,” Leigh says. “I think Noah captures all of that and the family dynamic in the film.”
“At the same time,” Baumbach adds, “I think the film shows how you hold onto these ideas of yourself that were built on the foundation of how you think you turned out in life.”
Baumbach and Leigh are doing something right. In a day and age when films are more mindless (“Bee Movie,” “Saw IV,” “The Game Plan”) than thought-provoking, they believe that dabbling in dysfunction can be downright delicious for the soul.
“What so touches me about this film is that these women are strangers now,” Leigh says, “that there’s this constant hope of finding that original bond again.”
Ultimately, the two hope “Margot,” their first outing together, paints a realistic portrait of the complexities found in all relationships, a topic that seems to influence the work they take on — Baumbach’s past, particularly his parents’ breakup, influenced “Squid”; Leigh says the divorces she experienced in her childhood (at 2 and 17) “had such a profound impact” on her.
“I just associated marriage with divorce,” she admits. “I thought, ‘Why would anyone want to do any one of those things?’ It took a lot of time for me to consider marriage. I mean, marriage really equaled divorce to me and Inever wanted to go through that. Those divorces were really life-changing.
“When you’re a child, you see stuff that really forms you,” she says. “You see your parents go through so much pain, and it marks you — not necessarily in bad way, but you definitely see things in almost a privileged way because you notice that your parents are vulnerable. It’s definitely dramatic.”