Cast: Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson, Laura Dern
Director: Noah Baumbach
In an ideal world, when two people fall in love and get married, they stay married. But since this is not an ideal world and it is only human to run out of love, how do you navigate a decision that can change the course of your life!
Marriage Story begins when the marriage ends. Scarlett Johansson plays Nicole and Adam Driver plays Charlie, a separating couple. She is the lead actor in the theatre company that he runs, and the two have a director and muse relationship. The film opens with Charlie and Nicole writing letters about what they love in each other.
"She knows when to push me and when to leave me alone," reads Charlie's letter, while Nicole writes, "He loves being a dad. He loves the things you are supposed to hate, like waking up at night."
At first sight, the couple looks like they belong together, and you find yourself rooting for them to get back together. However, as the film progresses, one cannot help but be divided if they are team Nicole or team Charlie.
It’s a simple set-up. Nicole and Charlie are separating, but they do not want to involve lawyers. She has got an offer in Los Angeles for a TV show. While she shoots for the pilot, Charlie travels to and fro to work. The confrontation happens when Nicole realises, though she fell in love with Charlie, "two seconds" after she met him and thought she had a happy marriage, she was never living for herself.
"I was not alive, I was feeding his aliveness," she says.
What Nicole really wants to do is live in LA and continue to work for the TV show, which, for the first time since her wedding is the only thing that is about her. She wants to find herself and her voice, things she lost in her wedding, and that cannot be done if she goes back to New York.
Charlie, who is still hurt from the separation, takes the fact that his kid will be near him, for granted. But Nicole gets a lawyer Nora Fanshaw, played by Laura Dern and 'serves' him.
As Charlie visits his son Henry in LA, he realises that Henry is not only taking a liking to California more but is growing more distant from him. Seeing his son slip away, Charlie retaliates. What follows is the ugly game of mud-slinging, name-calling, accusations and a case of he said- she said. The lawyers are ruthless, especially Nora, who is blunt and unapologetic, and the separation process is no longer painless like they always wanted.
The film reminds us of two other wonderful films, Asghar Farhadi's 2011 film A Separation and Derek Cianfrance's Blue Valentine. But unlike the two movies, Marriage Story has a very special charm of its own. It's a tear-jerker, but it is hilarious in equal parts. The director Noah Baumbach, also the writer, has executed a tight screenplay.
Both, Johansson and Driver, have come up with good performances, but it’s Driver who makes you feel not only for his character but for fathers caught in similar situations.
Scarlett Johannson is wonderful as the heartbroken wife who will always love her husband, always know him the best, but she is also finding herself again, and that is too thrilling to give up.
Randy Newman's score is another tear-jerker. Also featuring Alan Alda, Merritt Wever, Julie Hagerty, Azhy Robertson and Ray Liotta, the film is slated to release in the theatres and Netflix on December 6, 2019.
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