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Marriage Story

Marriage Story: A Marvellous Tale of Divorce

arts & culture Culture film review Marriage Story netflix Netflix Original
  • Adam DriverAzhy Robertson...
  • ComedyDrama...
  • Out now
  • Noah Baumbach
reviewed by
Mariam Nowar
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Marriage Story: A Marvellous Tale of Divorce

(Image credit: Netflix)

When a couple are separating, we often assume that one person is at fault. But with Marriage Story, each spouse is fuelled by a set of motives that the other is entirely ignorant to – like sides of a coin. Director and writer, Noah Baumbach, takes inspiration from his own reality and puts it into a drama film that, for the first time, explores comprehensive measures of what a divorce entails. Like our lead protagonists, Baumbach also went through a divorce with his ex-wife, Jennifer Jason Leigh a decade ago, and his passion propels the plotline forward as we watch a marriage between theatre director Charlie (Adam Driver), and his actress wife, Nicole (Scarlett Johansson) crumble.

They had agreed to keep it between themselves, but Nicole brings prestigious lawyer, Nora (Laura Dern) into the midst, and Charlie gets dragged into a battle he did not anticipate, with not one, but two different lawyers, including the skilled (but overpriced attorney), Jay (Ray Liotta). Little Henry (Azhy Robertson) favours his mother’s lavish lifestyle in Los Angeles as she stars in a TV show above a gloomy theatre-led life in New York with dad, which ultimately becomes the main narrative behind most of their conflict. Nicole had always wanted to go back to her hometown in Los Angeles, while Charlie was too focused on his play in New York, which later advances to Broadway with a generous grant. His finances soon dismantle, with one bill after another in his struggle to juggle lawyer fees with his new extra residency closer to his son.

Like Henry, the viewer is split between Nicole and Charlie, constantly switching between two sides in a bid to pinpoint from where the root of the break-up stemmed. Highlighted by Baumbach’s impeccable frames, the acting flow is as close as a movie can get to real-life conversations. The transition is so smooth through sentences, and silence often speaks even louder. There is a master scene that shows Nicole and Charlie joined by their attorneys in court. Although they are not allowed to utter much, and the lawyers are doing all the talking, the expressions that cross Driver and Johansson’s faces paint the perfect picture of their emotions; better than words could have.

We get to watch the couple spiral out of control into a conflict that bears years of bottled-up sentiments that overflows on screen. No wonder both Driver and Johansson are nominated for Academy Awards, for their portrayal of each character’s volcanic eruption deserves all the recognition they can get. The soundtrack only enhances the emotions that course through us as we witness a happy ending, and although a marriage had ended, the family-unit has stood firm


Like This? Try

The Squid and the Whale (2005), Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) and Frances Ha (2013).

360 Tip

Watch out for the knife trick!

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