Marriage story movie review

Alec Jensen


In his second feature released by Netflix, (his first being 2017’s The Meyerowitz Stories), Director Noah Baumbach delivers one of 2019’s most visceral gut-punches with Marriage Story.

Starring Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver as a couple in the final stage of their marriage, Marriage Story effectively presents the complex nature of falling out of love and the emotional weight a divorce has on a family. The audience watches as Nicole (Johansson) and Charlie (Driver) begin their separation on good terms. Neither party wants the other to feel the effects of the divorce, but once lawyers and custody become involved, the audience watches as the ideal divorce crumbles and becomes less about settling and more about winning. Laura Dern plays Nora, Nicole’s lawyer, and makes a great “villain” as she tries to pressure Nicole into “winning” her divorce.

The film’s heartbreaking and infuriating, painful yet hollow. The raw emotion that Johansson and Driver bring to the screen, along with Baumbach’s script, makes the experience feel as if the audience is peering into the personal hell of these two souls. 

The film is very dialogue-driven, with many scenes consisting of single monologues or drawn-out screaming matches. The cinematography is minimal, much like Baumbach’s past films. Despite the simple cinematography, the camera work is effective when Baumbach wants to hit home. 

Not enough can be said about the performances given by Johansson and Driver. Johansson’s Nicole is quiet and brooding, often displaying a single tear or weeping eyes. She wants control of her life and feels as if she’s been voiceless in her marriage with Charlie. Alternatively, Driver’s Charlie is quick to emotions and is having his voice silenced for the first time in his marriage. The dynamics created between the two feels as real as a crumbling marriage can be. The tension is palpable and when the pot finally boils over, the result is the most heart-wrenching scene in the film. Both Driver and Johansson will be in Oscar talks and it’s well deserved. This is truly some of their best works. 

The film is nearly perfect, with a great screenplay, cast and director creating an amazing depiction of a marriage at its end. If you’re looking for a beautiful yet heartbreaking drama to watch, I suggest Marriage Story which is available for streaming on Netflix.

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Marriage story movie review

by Alec Jensen time to read: 2 min