Currently on Netflix from writer/director Noah Baumback is the story of a marriage that becomes a bit of a battle with MARRIAGE STORY.
Charlie Barber (Adam Driver) and wife Nicole (Scarlett Johansson) are a young married couple living in New York City and both are in the ‘business’. Charlie is a theater director and Nicole has been in film and on stage.
Things have been difficult for them both when Nicole is offered a television pilot in Los Angeles. Charlie watches her go to L.A. living with her mother Sandra (Julie Hagerty) and taking their son Henry (Azhy Robertson) with her. Its difficult to get away for Charlie with a play coming to Broadway as it takes up much more of his time than ever.
The more time the couple spends away from each other, issue begin to arise as Nicole feels neglected by Charlie. To his surprise Nicole is talking to attorney Nora Fanshaw (Laura Dern) who tells Charlie to get a lawyer of his own for the separation. Thinking it will all blow over, Charlie takes his time finding a lawyer. When it turns out everything isn’t going to blow over, he turns to Bert Spitz (Alan Alda).
The first order of business is to get an apartment in Los Angeles since everything now will be done according to the laws of California. This drives Charlie nuts because he believes they are New Yorkers! This isn’t going to be the only line in the sand to be drawn by Nicole’s attorney. Once the case hits court, Charlie is about to find out how much more his life is about to change.
The lawyers start with the smallest of accusations making them huge and worthy of fodder for the judge to deal with. Watching his own lawyer Bert accept what is happening, Charlie hires Jay Marotta (Ray Liotta) to try and salvage what is left of their shredded lives.
This is the story of love, relationships and what happens when those two things break down completely.
Johansson as Nicole is a woman who decides that she wants something more in her life. Letting her husband pursue his dreams, she decides that its time for her to do the same. I have to say that Johansson character was a tad bit shady in her dealings and I’m not the only one who thinks so. I mean really? I get that using the laws to her advantage is one thing but wow, I was head shaking a time or two. Of course, Johansson gives a stellar performance but I expect nothing less.
Driver as Charlie is a man who is sort of a bit of a narcissist in that he thinks what he does is more important that what’s going on in the real world. Don’t get me wrong, I think he was done under a time or two but at the same time he was seriously oblivious to his wife and young child. This is the year of Driver with saying adios to Kylo Ren in STAR WARS: The Rise of Skywalker, THE REPORT and now MARRIAGE STORY.
Dern as Fanshaw came in with legal guns blazing but then that’s what California divorce lawyers do with a good case that has the potential to be a money maker. Did that sound biting? Oh well. Alda as Spitz gives that California-laid-back lets-not-work-ourselves-up-lawyer-vibe that works well with Charlie – in the beginning anyway. Liotta as Marotta is the kind of lawyer Charlie needed from the beginning but there is a price to be paid for that kind of game play.
It was great to see Julie Hagerty on the screen again as Sandra who seemed to be more on Charlie’s side than her daughters.
Other cast include – Martha Kelly as The Evaluator, Rich Fulcher as the Judge, Mark O’Brien as Carter, Kyle Bornheimer as Ted, Matthew Shear as Terry, Brooke Bloom as Mary Ann, and Merritt Wever as Cassie.
MARRIAGE STORY is a harsh film to take in on many levels because there isn’t a speck of it that isn’t true in most divorces I’ve ever heard about. It is about the break down of communication between two people who are used to having words written to say by someone else so getting their own out takes a bit. They are a creative couple who have created a marriage that isn’t working without special effects.
That’s what makes their separation so difficult to watch, mainly because all I could think was how easy it all could have gone if they JUST TALKED it out. No secrets, no surprises and no other childish nonsense that seems to go hand in hand with divorces these days.
So, I think MARRIAGE STORY should be required before anyone gets married, especially the scene when the Evaluator visits both Charlie and Nicole because wow! Add THE WAR OF THE ROSES into that viewing list as well for good measure.
There will be awards and nominations for both Johannson and Driver to be sure because their performances are very good. Currently the awards up for grabs as the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild so watch for those coming soon.
In the end – just a look inside one marriage.