MARRIAGE STORY – A Review by Cynthia Flores
The Academy Award-nominated filmmaker of this film Noah Baumbach is quoted as saying “I always viewed life as material for a movie.” I believe that’s what makes his films so engaging. They’re grounded in reality and the emotions that happen in trying times. His new film Marriage Story fits nicely in his storytelling on family life. It’s an incisive and compassionate portrait of a marriage breaking up and a family fighting to stay together. In this day and age where divorce is commonplace, he has managed to tell a visceral story of heartbreak.
The movie follows the story of Nicole (Scarlett Johansson) a native Californian B-level film actress who met and married Charlie (Adam Driver). He’s a native New Yorker who owns and directs an avant-garde theater company that is going to Broadway. He directs cutting-edge live theater that Nicole spent years starring in and gaining fame. Along the line, they’ve had a son named Henry (Azhy Robertson) who when we meet him is still quite young. Nicole and Charlie are having trouble in their marriage. We first meet them in a couples counseling session.
What follows in the film is how the couple faces the very painful end of their life together. This will involve Charlie dividing his time between Los Angeles and New York because Nicole has taken a role in a TV series pilot. We’ll see all the machinations that happen when people that once loved each other deeply lash out at each other with that same intensity.
The movie portrays lawyers such as Nora Fanshaw (Laura Dern) and Jay (Ray Liotta) as sharks that enjoy the fight and bloodshed more than actually helping their clients. It also shows the older gentler type of lawyers such as Bert Spitz (Alan Alda). His, “I’ve seen it all, let’s try to keep the bloodshed between the two of you to a minimum” approach is no match for the sharks in the room. No matter which way the couple decides to handle the end of their marriage there is heartache enough for all. The film is so good at showing both sides of the story that the audience will be divided fairly evenly between team Nicole and team Charlie. That’s a hard trick to pull off when making a film like this.
Marriage Story was absolutely amazing with award-worthy performances from its leading actors Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson and even probably a Best Supporting Actress nomination for Laura Dern. It captured the pain of divorce the way Kramer Vs. Kramer did in 1979. I give this film an A+ rating.
Directed by: Noah Baumbach
Written by: Noah Baumbach
Selig Rating A+
Running Time: 2hr 16min
Drama / Comedy/ Romance
Limited Release: November 22nd Landmark Magnolia
Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Adam Driver, Merritt Wever, Laura Dern, Alan Alda, Ray Liotta, Azhy Robertson
The Selig Rating Scale:
A – Excellent movie, well worth the price.
B – Good movie
C – OK movie
D – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
F – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn’t paid for it.