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Marriage Story - Movie Reveiw

Steven - AV September 05, 2020

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The “marriage” part of Marriage Story begins to dissolve early into the movie, as actress Nicole
Barber (Scarlett Johansson) and her stage director husband, Charlie (Adam Driver), decide to
split up. At first, they’re sure the divorce will be amicable, wondering whether they even need to
use lawyers at all. But said lawyers (Laura Dern, Ray Liotta, Alan Alda) unearth a lot of buried
discontent, some of it embellished for the court’s sympathies but much of it stuff they’ve rarely
discussed over the course of the marriage, content to let the resentment simmer out of sight. Oh,
and their son (Azhy Robertson) is caught in the middle.

Though the divorce certainly isn’t coming cheap, it’s hard not to feel distant from the parents’
lifestyle as they essentially battle over which coast to live on. The film is partially rooted in
writer/director Noah Baumbach’s own real-life divorce, and sometimes it feels a little self-
aggrandizing in that regard, like Baumbach has massaged Driver’s character in particular to be a
bit unbelievably oblivious rather than ill-intentioned. But enough of the film is raw, emotional,
and even funny, giving the characters a specificity that lets them emerge as discernible human
beings beyond the fog of Rich People Problems. The performances from Johansson and Driver
also elevate a couple of scenes that feel too tidy, too “written” to seem emotionally honest on the
page.


The best parts of the movie are actually focused around the lawyers, for a sort of legal comedy
about how divorce has become its own industry. They’re experts on an old battleground, able to
twist and reframe problems they’ve definitely heard before. Even the cooperative moments hum
with an adversarial tension, a need for there to be a winner. Maybe it’s a problem that the more
grounded relationship stuff isn’t as good, but the movie works okay in spite of that.

Overall Rating: B-

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