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Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Marriage Story - Movie Review


The Movie: Marriage Story

The Director: Noah Baumbach

The Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Adam Driver, Merritt Wever, Laura Dern, Ray Liotta, Alan Alda, Wallace Shawn, Julie Hagerty, Mark O'Brien, Kyle Bornheimer, Brook Bloom, Azhy Robertson

The Story: Noah Baumbach's incisive and compassionate look at a marriage breaking up and a family staying together.


The Review:
Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver are really good at acting. Like really good and the work they put in to making this movie might just be some of their best. Both have a knack for drawing more than you might expect out of the characters they play in blockbuster roles and then, when they jump into roles that are more drama than flash, they take things to another level that just blows you away. When the two of them are together in this movie, everything is pure magic even though most of it is them arguing with each other because they are going through a divorce.

A couple of the extended conversations between the two reminded of Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy in Richard Linklater's "Before" trilogy which to me is some of the best conversational dialog ever put on screen so I consider this comparison to be high praise. There's one particular conversation between the two that, for me, ended up being the emotional touchstone of the entire movie and all the emotions were laid out, ran through the ringer, and left everyone an emotional mess. When I say everyone, I mean me.

On a side note, other people are in the movie as well and they all do a fine job with their roles with highlights coming from Laura Dern, Ray Liotta, and Alan Alda. Their characters are woven in and out of the story as needed and the actors each find a way to shine without dominating the moments they have with the two leads. Basically, these are all people at the top of their game chewing up some really juicy material, a story that was written by Noah Bumbauch who also directed the movie. You may remember Bumbauch from his work on Frances Ha, a movie that basically launched Greta Gerwig's career and sent her on a path that has led her to directing Little Women, a fantastic adaptation of the classic novel.

The one thing I will say about the movie is that, a couple going through a divorce has never been high on my list of stories I want to see play out on a movie screen so, with that in mind, it didn't grab me emotionally as much as I was hoping. Technically, it's a very well made film and, as I've mentioned, the acting is phenomenal so that's what I really leaned into to get the most out of it. That being said, I would still absolutely recommend Marriage Story if these types of movies are in your wheelhouse. If you'e more into the big blockbuster movies, you may want to wait for Kylo Ren and Black Widow to reemerge.


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