Sam Carlson’s review published on Letterboxd:
I’ve given myself some time to dwell on this, and I don’t think that was in favor of this film. Everything it tried to accomplish is right on the cusp: it’s almost insightful; it’s almost revealing; it’s almost personal. But those last few inches, where it’s lacking, prevent me from having any resounding connection with it.
The Squid and the Whale fights for those who are often abandoned and tries to show their perspective. There are no heroes, just various villains at various times, so you’re not sure whose perspective to find sympathy for.
It is, however, led by great performances. The actors in their different roles do a great job of bringing them to life (even if it’s the same character they always play cough cough Jesse Eisenberg cough cough). They even made me laugh a time or two or three. But failure to connect with motives left me a bit empty at the end. And some unexplained motives left things feeling a little unrealistic, which is ironic given its autobiographical nature.
It’s almost something. I’ll leave it at that.