Don’t be deceived by the title — this film is far from wedding bells and cake.
Directed by Noah Baumbach, “Marriage Story” is a highly successful depiction of a marriage in its final stages. Following Nicole and Charlie throughout the process of their divorce, the unwinding couple battles for custody over their young son. As the movie progresses, the pair begin to realize just how far they will stray away from what they once perceived as love and how much that realization truly affects them.
The movie establishes its compelling format from the opening scene. Shots of characters in intriguing candid moments are accompanied by a deeply moving narration from the divorcing couple. What could have easily become a bleak narrative is instantly made interesting by unique characterization and surrounding settings, offering an indulging cinematic experience that is as successful in keeping the audience as entertained as any blockbuster action movie.
Scarlett Johansson gives an extraordinary performance as Nicole. Begging for her husband to acknowledge her interests and desires, Johansson embodies grief, hidden only when channeling her priority of motherhood. A character shift later in the film allows Nicole to beam with a rejuvenating independence following her separation from Charlie, allowing Johansson to show off the broad spectrum of her emotional capacity.
Adam Driver is nothing short of phenomenal. Delivering a highly memorable performance as Charlie, a desperate and lonely father yearning to maintain a relationship with his son, Driver is the heart of the film. Capturing anger and heartache in its rawest form, Driver is so overwhelmingly convincing it feels like a punch to the stomach. During one climactic dispute between the divorcing couple, Driver is equally vulnerable as he is terrifying, becoming entirely captivating and impossible to look away from with the magnitude of convincing performance.
The production of the film is simply outstanding. Where the movie might have succumbed to its dreary subject matter, it is saved by scattered comedic relief that is both necessary and appropriately timed. The cinematography and graceful soundtrack is strategically bright in contrast to the dark events taking place, a perfect metaphor for how, despite the all-consuming nature of Nicole and Charlie’s divorce, the world moves on.
Above all, the movie is excruciatingly honest. Fueled by small moments of authenticity, the film successfully captivates its audience and keeps them engaged throughout. A sneeze, stutter or mispronunciation from a character makes the journey feel entirely genuine, capturing an achingly real depiction of a subject often dramatized in film. More than anything, the film is a raw and soulful representation of the humanity often absent in portrayals of divorce, masterfully created in a way that is sure to stick with viewers long after the credits roll.
So yes, it is a two-hour-long movie about divorce, but there is never a dull moment. Brought to life with an all-consuming production and highly capable cast, “Marriage Story” is timeless and real, a painfully human experience that is entirely one of a kind.
5/5 wedding rings