Directed and produced by Noah Baumbach and released on Netflix this month, Marriage Story follows a stage director (Adam Driver) and his actor wife (Scarlett Johansson) as they struggle through a grueling, coast-to-coast divorce that pushes them to their personal and creative extremes.
I had to try and prepare myself to watch this film as I thought it was going to be about a story about marriage (funnily enough). I was never going to be ready for that being newly married with a three-year-old and another on the way, so I finally went for it.
First off, I thought it was going to show the decline in a relationship after marriage. There are certainly elements of this and some aspects that I found relatable in the opening dialogues, but the marriage here is already over, so it wasn’t quite what I was expecting.
Because of that, it took me a while to get into because of the focus on divorce proceedings involving two wealthy American characters. I thought I was going to struggle to relate to them so the film didn’t have the emotional engagement I was expecting in the beginning. By the third act, however, I was in tears, and I came away from the film really… everything. I was sad because it’s heartbreaking to think how two people so close can become so distant and resentful, but I was also happy to see a glimpse of positivity breaking through.
Whilst I wasn’t the wreck that I thought I was going to be, what I can be sure of is the talent of Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson. Their long scenes of uninterrupted, painfully honest dialogue are astounding. The emotion on their face in the cracks of their voices is something you only usually get the full effect of when watching a staged play, but director Noah Baumbach lingers on the quieter moments, giving his characters the time and spotlight to really connect with the audience as if you were face-to-face with them.
I usually find it hard to relate to Noah Baumbach’s films. Maybe it’s because of the American settings and characters, but that fact didn’t stop me from fully investing in Nicole and Charlie this time around.