Marriage Story is the latest Netflix film that seems to be taking the internet by storm – The newest film written and directed by Noah Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale, The Meyerowitz Stories) starring Scarlet Johannsson (Black Widow) and Adam Driver (Kylo Ren) is a beautiful love story told through a couple going through a divorce that gets more and more malicious as time goes on, thankfully in part due to some horrible solicitors who turn the entire thing into a “street fight”, played by Laura Dern and Ray Liotta.
Firstly, I need to say that the acting in this film is absolutely superb. Every heartstring is pulled in this beautiful tale of the divorce of a couple who are just fighting for their family to stay together – There is a moment around ¾ of the way through the film where Charlie (Driver) and Nicole (Johannsson) have a big fight in Charlie’s apartment down due to the things the solicitors are saying about each other that really showcases both actors’ raw power when it comes to their trade.
Towards the end of the argument, Charlie drops to his knees and begins to cry, really hitting the audience that this is such a horrible situation for any family to have to be put through. This entire scene is shot in one take, and took over 50 attempts to get right, but the resulting emotion shown in this single scene is so perfect that it just broke me for a solid few minutes.
The whole film is shot in such a way that it makes the audience feel like they’re an onlooker, watching this whole thing unfold, and because you know both sides of the story it makes everything so much less black and white, instead you simply do not know who you are supposed to be rooting for as both Charlie and Nicole have made mistakes, and as much as you really want them to end up back together by the end of the film you know that it just wouldn’t be healthy for either of them, or their child, Henry.
The backup cast in this is absolutely superb as well, Laura Dern and Ray Liotta playing the downright scumbags of Nicole and Charlie respectively help to showcase that in the world of family law, there are a lot of villainous solicitors who only care about “winning”, no matter the cost of the family that gets caught in the middle.
One thing that really got to me with Marriage Story was the full circle the characters end up going through. In the initial instance both Charlie and Nicole are reading from some letters they wrote to each other about all the things they love about each other so that they can remain friends throughout the whole messy ordeal. Nicole doesn’t want to read hers in front of Charlie, but towards the end of the film Charlie spots Henry reading the letter, but struggling to read it. Charlie proceeds to take over the reading and as soon as the letter was put into Charlie’s hands I knew I was going to bawl my eyes out.
Driver really proves his acting chops here; all he is doing is reading a letter but it conveys such pure emotion that I almost forgot I was watching an entirely fictional story at this point.
Marriage Story is one of my favourite movies of 2019. Perfectly written, directed and acted, it shows that films still don’t need the huge, flashy fight scenes of Johansson and Driver’s other films in 2019, and that simply conveying raw, powerful emotion is enough to keep me hooked for over 2 hours.
This film is going to stick with me for a long time when I think about relationships and family; and which is resulting in me taking a long hard look at the way I act in my own marriage in order to avoid such an eventuality, and for this, I give Marriage Story a 9/10.