Movie review: Marriage Story

ScarJo with two acting noms

Marriage StoryThe movie Marriage Story was included in the Vanity Fair article Divorce Stories: Why the Oscars Love Miserable Couples. I realized how true the observation was. And I’m one of those folks who had been attracted to these.

Ordinary People (1980), Kramer v. Kramer (1979), the early oeuvre of Woody Allen. These are among the films I related to heavily at the time.

The beginning of Marriage Story was quite lovely. Charlie (Adam Driver), a theater director, and Nicole (Scarlett Johansson) are putting together lists. They are to write down the traits they like in each other. Alas, this is in anticipation of their inevitable divorce.

Still, they both agree to try to work out the arrangement without dragging lawyers into the mix. They want to protect their son Henry (Azhy Robertson) from too much drama.

Yet the arrangement becomes a transcontinental affair. Charlie has a theater gig in Manhattan. Nicole, whose family is from SoCal, has an acting gig in LA.

Send lawyers…

So Nicole gets a fiercely strong attorney, Nora Fanshaw (Laura Dern, NOTHING like Marmie in Little Women). Charlie is forced to respond, with the avuncular Bert Spitz (Alan Alda). High-powered lawyer Jay Marotta (Ray Liotta) may not be available.

Charlie and Henry are visited by a social worker, which was difficult. Charlie, back in NYC, sings to his cast. There is a rather emotionally brutal scene between the principals; THAT was exhausting. At the end, do they find the balance they sought?

Marriage Story was written by Noah Baumbach. He wrote and directed The Squid and the Whale (2005), which also touched on the themes of divorce and children. I haven’t seen it since I first viewed it at the time. But I recall enjoying it far more than Marriage Story. He also penned the screenplay to The Fantastic Mr. Fox. So he can write about happy families.

This was a very well-written, -paced, and -acted movie. The nominations for Johansson, Driver and especially Dern are warranted. I don’t imagine me seeing Marriage Story again, though.