Marriage Story Review
by J. Ellmers
**** 4 Stars
‘Minimalistic shots such as Johansson or Driver simply sitting and speaking passionately with a fixed camera angle allows for audiences to connect with who Nicole and Charlie are, and how they still genuinely love each other.’
Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Adam Driver, Laura Dern
Synopsis: A stage director and his actor wife struggle through a gruelling, coast-to-coast divorce that pushes them to their personal and creative extremes.
Marriage Story pushes the boundaries of a crumbling relationship and does not shy away from the ‘nitty-gritty’ aspects of our personal lives that we naturally wish to conceal. Nicole (Johansson) and Charlie (Driver) realise they have fallen out of love, which in itself must be one of the most soul-destroying things that could happen to a human being. Initially wanting to keep their divorce civil, primarily for the sake of their 8 year old son Henry, it rapidly escalates into a cut-throat, legal battle in which both parties are evidently uncomfortable with.
Despite being comprised of almost 137 minutes of Black Widow and Kylo Ren sobbing, screaming or being oddly courteous with one another, Marriage Story really highlights how difficult not only marriage and divorce are, but how sensitive subjects such as divorce are to be approached, particularly when children are involved. Emotions fluctuate heavily, but realistically – it is still an accurate portrayal of how many people would behave during a divorce; confused and hurt yet still seeking to be amicable with somebody you have an ever-lasting connection with.
Director Noah Baumbach keeps the focus on Nicole and Charlie with simple cinematography; the focus here is on the characters and their raw emotions only, not necessarily what they are doing or where they happen to be. Minimalistic shots such as Johansson or Driver simply sitting and speaking passionately with a fixed camera angle allows for audiences to connect with who Nicole and Charlie are, and how they still genuinely love each other.
Marriage Story puts into perspective how ordinary people can experience the disintegration of love, even when you can write pages and pages of things you adore about your significant other. On the flip side, it also displays how a horrific breakdown can end positively, with a different outlook, perhaps, on the definition of love.
Marriage Story is currently available on Netflix and was rated 15 by the BBFC.