Marriage Story is Noah Baumbach’s latest film that follows Nicole (Scarlett Johannson) and Charlie (Adam Driver) as they are going through a divorce.
Divorce is a very common occurrence especially in the United States, and many people have been affected by it in one way or another. It’s a long, grueling process that can get pretty nasty at times. And this film highlights why this couple do not work anymore.
I’ve only seen one Noah Baumbach movie, Frances Ha, and I thought it was fine, noting overtly special or memorable though he has made plenty more films I haven’t seen yet. Marriage Story, however, is a masterclass of acting, directing, and screenwriting.
Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver are both the best they’ve ever been. Especially Adam Driver whose character struggles a bit more juggling the divorce with his work. Driver plays a brilliant theater director whose show has recently moved to Broadway, while Johansson is an actress who is the star of his plays until she moves to L.A. and starts working on TV. Baumbach doesn’t shy away from the couple’s faults either, neither parent is perfect, but they still care about each other. He tries to give each character equal screen time, but Charlie is basically a stand-in for Baumbach himself, so you feel for him a bit more.
The film also showcases how cut-throat divorce lawyers can be from Laura Dern and Jay Morrota’s performances. Dern represents Johannson’s character who is a very good lawyer, but is pretty vicious. And Driver’s character initially hires the cheaper and friendlier lawyer played by Alan Alda, but once he starts losing, he gets Morrota, who is just as vicious as Dern. There’s one courtroom scene and it’s amazing to watch how these lawyers latch onto one little mistake made by the other party and how they spin it to show that the other parent is unfit.
The way Baumbach follows the characters with his camera movements puts you right beside them. You are right there witnessing and feeling their emotions. As a whole, the movie can be pretty devastating, especially if you are able to relate to the material in some way, but it does have moments of humor and hope. I wasn’t too emotional while watching the film, but the film hits pretty hard afterwards.
Overall, Marriage Story is incredibly well-acted. This is an incredibly personal and raw story from Baumbach who gives it his all for this film, and that is what makes it one of the best films of the year.
I give Marriage Story an A.