MARRIAGE STORY is Noah Baumbach’s best film. If you’ve been a long time reader of my reviews, or know me in person, I probably haven’t said too kind a word about most of Baumbach’s filmography including (but not limited to) Greenberg, Frances Ha, The Meyerowitz Stories or even the critically acclaimed The Squid And The Whale. I just thought his films were a little bit too quirky and they were trying to be quirky without being subtle with any of it, trying to shove it in your face and scream in your ear, “Hey, I’m a really quirky independent film, look how fucking quirky I am, you must love me because I’m different and quirky.” No, that shit doesn’t work for me. Marriage Story is his most real and down to Earth film, some parts being quirky, but they earn their quirkiness for being real and not shoving spoonfuls of it into your face. The dialogue is crisp, the acting is fucking phenomenal, both Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson deserve to be nominated, and I would not raise one concern if they ended up winning. Marriage Story is actually a pretty great film. But I will never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever watch it again. Ever. Have I said ever?
Not to rip on the film, it’s trying to be as real as possible, and I appreciate that in the best way possible, but this film is so fucking hard to watch. And I can’t imagine how hard it is to watch for couples/individuals going through a divorce, already been divorced, thinking about divorce, right at the end of a divorce, fuck, even for people going through a small rough patch in their relationship/marriage. It really fucking feels real. Oh shit….did I forget to mention what the film is about? Well, the title is a little misleading isn’t it? The movie is called Marriage Story, but it’s really the story of a couple going through a divorce with a kid. And no, it doesn’t go through flashbacks with them to show their marriage through the years (that is done tastefully and authentically well represented through fantastic dialogue), it is just saying that divorce could be part of a story about marriage. Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson’s characters are medium profile successful people. Driver’s a director who’s play that he co-developed with Johansson is about to launch on Broadway without her (because of the divorce) and she is a small time actress whose TV pilot got picked up to series, and she had a huge teen movie hit in her past. She moves to L.A. for the show and wants Henry to be with her. Driver wants to stay with his career in New York. They both want to do the divorce without lawyers, but suddenly she’s getting one, which forces him to get one…as you can see, it turns into a giant messy mess, which I’m guessing is what a lot of divorces are and what they do to people.
That’s all I’ll tell you about the story film. The film is a hefty 2 hrs and 15 minutes of just depressing sadness. But there isn’t a slow minute to be found. The dialogue is crisp, clean, interesting to hear, real and comes at you at rapid pace. There are some genuinely funny scenes that try and relieve you somewhat of the trauma these two are going into but don’t be fooled, this movie is a straight one way ticket to Depressed Town. The ending? Hopeful yet real yet still made me sad. It’s just a sad sad sad sad movie. And I think the reason it is so sad is because of the acting and that these characters seem like people you might know in your own lives. Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson deserve all the acting nods and possible awards they are going to get in this. They are absolutely fucking incredible, the best performances I’ve seen from either of them, and Scarlett was fantastic in JoJo Rabbit just a month ago as well, Driver great in The Report on Amazon Prime. I love how the film paints neither as a bad guy, they are just wanting something different out of their lives, and think that this divorce will finally un-tether a cord that has long been frayed. The movie doesn’t choose sides at all. It chooses a side on certain situations, but these two characters aren’t despicable or ugly or mean, or unforgivable. They are just normal people.
Other fantastic performances include the always amazing Laura Dern and the fiesty Ray Liotta, who play their lawyers. Very good bit parts for them. Marriage Story is an excellent film. I can’t even deny it. There was hard work in writing it I’m sure, and hard work in directing it as Noah Baumbach has stated he took some of what happened with his divorce with Jennifer Jason Leigh into account with this story. It’s very well made and Netflix was very smart into picking this up for their platform. This did not need to be a theatrical release as I think the subject matter wouldn’t have people flocking to the theaters. It’s a perfect little awards film. But I don’t think I could get through it again with how fucking sad and depressing it is. Am I recommending it? If the subject matter doesn’t bother you at all, then I say you absolutely give it a watch. People that cry during movies a lot? No. Depressed individuals? Are…are you kidding? Happy couples or people in a happy marriage? Well, I mean, sure as long as you don’t think it is going to start exposing the little shit layer by layer and then you end up pausing the movie and fighting yourselves. People going through or have been through a divorce? As Leo said in The Wolf Of Wall Street, “Absolutely fucking not.”