IMDB rating – 8/10
Our Rating – 4/5
You know typically, when a movie ends in matrimony, it falls under the category of romance or comedy. But, where would you put a movie, which starts with the end of a marriage? Honestly, Noah Baumbach’s stinging and a tender film doesn’t very well answer this question for you. Marriage Story is the right blend of sad and funny. Sometimes in the movie, you’ll experience both these emotions in one single scene. Well, scene by scene, it weaves a storyline of a messy collapse of what was once a beautiful marriage. The movie is made to seek melody in a situation full of loss, heartbreak, and regret. However, the song in the movie is incredibly beautiful to be purely melancholic.
So, Marriage Story is a movie revolving around the life of a couple Nicole and Charlie, essayed by Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver, respectively. They have an 8-year-old son, Henry, essayed beautifully by the Azhy Robertson. Now, both Nicole and Charlie are an artistic couple working in theatre, and they live in Brooklyn with their son. In her teenage days, Nicole was a star in Hollywood. She was also a leading performer in the stage company of which Charlie was the director (and an actor, sometimes). In the opening montage of the movie, we see a list prepared by the two in which they have listed out the things that they love about each other. They have worked on this list as an idea by the mediator who’s been hired to help them work out their marriage differences.
However, what comes across as an amicable split, later turns into a shattering rupture. It brings in massive awkwardness between the duo. The cunning divorce lawyers take over the mediator. Soon enough, Nicole, who bags a role in a television pilot, moves to Los Angeles with Henry, where her mother, sister, and Henry’s cousins live. All this while, Charlie is of the view that the move is temporary. But this goes on to become a crucial point of contention between the attorneys and their spouses. Voices are raised, and papers are served. Mia, who pay to have paper written says that amidst the New York and LA fight of the couple, Harry’s life goes for an utter toss.
What’s the most heart-breaking part of the movie is that idiosyncrasies are put forth as pathological, and mistakes are labelled as crimes. Maria, who offers online assignment help, says that what warmed her heart is how even after the ongoing conflict, Nicole still refers to Charlie as honey, mostly involuntarily. This well depicts that there’s a residue of sweetness still lingering between them. At times, it offers a bit of hope, not really for reconciliation but a limit on the damage. Though Baumbach does a good job at extending the talent of his cast, he in no way exaggerates. There are a few instances of melodrama, but they happen naturally and well within the behaviour of the characters. On the whole, both Charlie and Nichole are two complicated personalities who have emotional and professional lives that drain their days and bring in an element of anxiety, and a rare delight on screen.
Another praise-worthy thing about Baumbach is that he has been fair to both his protagonists. And honestly, just like his other movies, this one also feels personal. I mean, it might not just be autobiographical, but maybe something he has closely lived or seen.
However, there are parts in the movie, where I feel that the situation is harder on Charlie. It was Nicole who precipitated the breakup. Over time, her feelings and expectations for Charlie changed, and Charlie indeed struggles his way to understand it. Not sure, if he acts, or is genuinely blind to a few of the implications of his deed. One such being, his cheating on Nicole with a member of a theatre company. Through the movie, what should have been the primary issue is treated as a sidebar, and that’s something that leaves me perturbed even after the movie finishes.
An important moral that one could derive from the movie, the hard way is that we don’t know each other, but we are always obligated to work our bit to get there. What’s worth mentioning is that Dern, Liotta, and Alda collectively steal the show because they are portraying their part in a way that even Nicole and Charlie fail to do. The song sung by Driver towards the end of the movie is the anthem we need. So, if you haven’t yet seen the movie, it does deserve a watch. You’ll love it one hundred percent.