And they divorced happily ever after…
I really didn’t know what to expect from Marriage Story. I was prepared for a dumb melodrama that might have me mentally checking out within 30 minutes. The movie even earned its own meme template on social media that sure did make it seem like it was going to be that way.
But I really enjoyed it.
After several years of marriage, Nicole (Scarlett Johansson) is ready to leave her self-absorbed husband Charlie (Adam Driver). Charlie agrees to an amicable divorce, but they also have a son they both love and need to share. She wishes to live in Los Angeles, and he wants to stay in New York. Lawyers get involved and pffft… I’ll let you guess the rest.
This movie sets out to give a realistic example of what divorce is like for these two characters, and it nails it. It may seem like a simple thing but having Scarlett Johanson blow her nose, and walk over to the bathroom to grab some toilet paper so she can wipe it even more… it is just one of those small things that keeps her character grounded. There was a real casualness to the scene as Nicole describes her relationship with Charlie to her lawyer, Nora (Laura Dern).
The movie does this quite a few times. My favorite one was when Charlie first meets his lawyer, Bert (Alan Alda). It follows the part in the movie where Nicole first meets Nora, who is uber prepared to defend Nicole. Nora asks the right questions about her background and knows which tea and snacks will keep her clients calm and focused. She was already building a case before Nicole walked through the door.
Bert re-heats last night’s leftovers in the microwave and prepares a paper plate and plastic cutlery, while discussing a mutual desire for all divorces to be amicable ones with Charlie. This “salt of the earth” lawyer has no idea what he is going up against. Charlie has no idea that he shouldn’t hire him. As a viewer, you’re shaking your head knowing how they are going to get creamed. It was brilliant.
After the movie was over, I read in the Netflix description about how Marriage Story was the work of “Academy Award Nominee Noah Baumbach”. I thought, who the heck is Noah Baumbach? Well, it turns out he directed a movie I watched a long time ago and really enjoyed called The Squid and the Whale. I completely forgot about Noah “Da-bomb”-bach. I have a feeling a few of his movies will make an appearance on the 2020 watchlist.
Marriage Story is #MarsApproved