8/10. Engrossing and heartbreaking. Marriage Story is an entertaining story about the difficulties of marriage that has incredible performances from its leads.
This is writer-director Noah Baumbach’s twelfth film and third time collaborating with actor Adam Driver and it feels like he’s beginning to hit his stride of making some great films in his career. He’s also written and directed Frances Ha, & While We’re Young, but Marriage Story is by far his most mature and well-crafted.
There are two aspects that were great about his latest entry: the script and the performances.
What I loved most about the story was how almost every scene gave something new and felt thoroughly entertaining to watch. There is no filler or silly middle ground in between as each scene either has some witty piece of dialogue exchange that feels down to earth or an equally emotionally resonating monologue that’s done in one impressive long take. As the story unfolds, scenes flow seamlessly, and each raises the stakes from what the previous scene had set up.
I think what caught me off guard was for such a serious drama is also how witty and comedic it can be. There’s a lot of great small moments that make you feel quite attached and related to the content that you see on screen. In these ways, it feels down to earth – like watching events from a relationship that you might have experienced personally or at least have seen from someone else that you’ve known.
But of course, a great script is nothing if it’s not delivered with great performances and leads Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson deliver in spades (although everyone in this is also good).
There’s a couple of extended scenes in this film which really puts the two of them together on a powerful and spectacular show of character acting which was great to watch. Whether you agree or side with either one of the characters, both are incredibly entertaining to watch but especially when they are together in the same scene.
My only gripe with the film is with the choice to show more of Driver’s character arc as opposed to Johannson’s. Throughout most of the film I felt very sympathetic towards his plight as he battled his ordeal to the point where although Johansson’s character wasn’t out of the picture, it slowly became a one-sided affair with most of the emotional impact coming from how I felt about Driver’s character and his emotions, rather than what Johansson’s character was feeling.
Overall Marriage Story is a thoroughly engrossing and heartbreaking tale that will likely pick up a few Oscar nominations for Best Original Screenplay and Best Actor/Actress. It’s witty, down to Earth, and emotionally draining – but in a good way. See it.
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