In his latest in-depth video essay, YouTuber Nerdwriter1 takes a look at Noah Baumbach’s recent comedy-drama The Meyerowitz Stories (New And Selected) to see how the writer-director manages to accurately depict the way people, specifically emotionally repressed family members, actually talk to one another. While other films are populated with articulate monologists and strategic interlocutors who patiently wait for one person to stop speaking before reciting their perfect reply, Baumbach’s characters regularly talk over each other or past each other. This allows characters who are intimately familiar with one another to have two conversations at once: One out loud and the other silent.
Similar to the overlapping dialogue of Robert Altman, Baumbach’s writing gives a sense of realism to his films. But more than that, it shows how two people engaged in a dialogue are often talking to themselves more than the other person. “When we talk, so often we fly around each other, working out our own shit, thinking about ourselves… Communication isn’t easy,” says Nerdwriter1, after citing a minute-and-a-half-long tracking shot of Ben Stiller and Adam Sandler failing to communicate that culminates in a brief moment of connection. “[Baumbach] uses the medium best suited for depicting conversation to show us the truth about them— that we miss the mark more often than we hit it.”