When married couple Charlie (Adam Driver) and Nicole (Scarlett Johansson) decide they want a divorce, hey must decide what’s best for them and their son Henry (Azhy Robertson).
Director: Noah Baumbach
Cast: Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson, Laura Dern, Ray Liotta, Azhy Robertson, Wallace Shawn.
MPAA Rating: R for language throughout and sexual references
Fun Fact: It was Adam Driver’s idea to have character be a theatre director.
Marriage Story is largely based off the real-life divorce of Noah Baumbach and his then wife Jennifer Jason Leigh. Now we don’t know the exact details of said divorce, but it’s a very emotional topic/journey people go on. A little back story about myself is that I went through a divorce at one point in my life. Going into this film I knew that this was going to be something that I could relate to in the subject matter. For a movie about a breakup, we get a lot of behind the scenes details that go into a divorce. Most breakup movies we have seen focuses on the fighting, but we get more details in what goes on with the characters lives and how it affects them.
Marriage Story is a raw, emotional, and intense film that is one of the best film’s I’ve seen in some time. Everything about this film is top notch, and I can’t find anything that I don’t like about it. Baumbach does an amazing job directing his performers and it shows in the performances. Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson have incredible chemistry that they come off as a real couple going through the divorce process. The scenes that they are in together I wanted to see more, and I felt bad that they were going through this. When their characters are together, you get the impression that things are fine, and they seem to be on the same page with everything that they want. When their characters are with lawyers or with other people, things are not all what they seem to be. There are lawyers speaking for them and it might not be what one person wants. In the end both couples just want what’s best for them and their son. Driver’s character wants to live his life in New York, while Johansson wants it in Los Angeles. Driver and Johansson bring so much emotion to the table that when the big fight happens, it’s heartbreaking to watch. It feels like you’re in the room with them and I got the feeling of if I should be in the room while this is happening before, I reminded myself that it’s a movie. That’s what is best about this movie, the raw emotion that these characters are going through. Baumbach captures this all and his direction of our two main leads make it the bread and butter of the movie.
While the performances of Driver and Johansson get my biggest praise, the performance of Laura Dern needs to be seen. She portrays Johansson’s character’s lawyer, and Dern is believable in the role. This is Dern’s best performance that I’ve seen in a while and it’s great she’s been in different films in the last few years. When she is with Johansson, we get well directed chemistry once again. Ray Liotta has a small role as Driver’s character’s lawyer, and again, more well directed chemistry. In general, the whole cast fits their roles perfectly and I can’t see anyone else in those roles.
Another thing that I enjoyed was the cinematography. Now in a basic picture like this you are probably wondering why as most of the shots are confined to rooms. There is one scene that got me more invested was when Johansson is talking with Dern for the first time. She gets up and goes to another room while she is talking. Johansson continues to keep talking and the camera focuses on the door to the room Johansson chose to go through. We take the place of Dern as she is off camera and we continue to hear Johansson. I thought that was a brilliant way of filmmaking. Appreciations goes to some of the choices made when the characters don’t speak to each other. It brings out tension and a certain uncomfortable vibe and with the realistic nature of the film, it makes you question if you should be in the room with the characters or not.
Overall, Marriage Story is a fantastic film that needs to be seen by all. Noah Baumbach takes an emotional subject and shows its relatability. It’s raw, real, and an emotional rollercoaster ride. Divorce is an emotional journey people take and many can relate to it. Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson lead the cast with some of the best acting caught on camera I’ve seen in quite a while. Laura Dern supports them in a fantastic performance as does Ray Liotta. Great performances carry great movies, and this is no exception. If you want to see one of the best films of 2019, I suggest you go to Netflix now and check it out now.