Marriage Story offers a heartbreaking look into divorce

A closer look at the Oscar nominated Netflix original Marriage Story


Wilson Webb

Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver experience the heartbreak of divorce in Marriage Story.

In the United States, a divorce occurs about every thirty-six seconds. Nearly all U.S. citizens have some experience with divorce, whether it be their own parents, themselves, or friend before the age of 30. On December 6th, Netflix released an original film that explores the extremely sore subject of marriage fallout and divorce. Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story has been deemed one of the best films of the decade, mostly due to its raw, heartbreaking story and phenomenal acting. Marriage Story is an absolute must-see movie of the decade, and as Oscar season comes around, it appears that the film may take home more than a few awards, being nominated in six different categories, including best Actor, Actress, and Picture among others. In Marriage Story, Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson deliver two of the best performances of their already impressive careers, playing the lead roles as a couple going through a tragic divorce.

Marriage Story opens in a couple’s therapy session, as Charlie (Driver) and Nicole Barber (Johansson) each write of what they enjoy about their spouse. The descriptions they give of each other gets the audience invested in each character, and provides a solid background detailing the marriage before things began to fall apart. However, after Nicole refuses to read what she has written, the session ends abruptly. Charlie and Nicole both work in the New York theater industry, ironically. (Charlie as a director and Nicole as an actress) Disagreements within the workplace are one of the main reasons Nicole decides travel away from Charlie in the first place. Nicole, with their son Henry, travels to Los Angeles in order to audition for a role

Charlie and Nicole clash over time to spend with their child Henry

that would keep her employed in L.A., where her mother lives. Charlie, however, is unaware of her plans to stay, and upon his arrival, is shocked when Nicole gives him papers filing for a divorce. Charlie was under the impression that he and Nicole would work out their differences on their own over time, without the help of lawyers. Nicole has other intentions, as Charlie soon learns. Nicole places Charlie in a very tough situation, in which he must continue to work in NYC and simultaneously consult with a lawyer and maintain a relationship with his son, Henry, in L.A. This leads to the couple splitting their time and their son across the country, resulting in crippling stress on both sides and an emotionally charged relationship. As Charlie and Nicole try to work things out, their relationship becomes increasingly hostile, and extremely heartbreaking. Eventually, however, they do reach an agreement, which may or may not leave you satisfied.

The production of this movie was great. Director Baumbach’s writing drains every drop of talent out of the cast. The movie also tackles a very serious topic, and although I have not experienced divorce in my own life, I am positive that those who have would find this movie both relatable and accurate, as well as hopeful. Although the story itself is relatively simple, it is both effective and powerful.

The lead characters, Charlie and Nicole, portrayed by Adam Driver and Scarlet Johansson, are absolutely wonderful. Driver, arguably one of the best actors of his generation, seems to have no limit in the scope of characters that he can represent. Driver has been seen in comedies, romances, and serious films alike, as well as his notable role as Kylo Ren in the Star Wars sequel trilogy. Johansson, however, acts mostly in action movies, such as her Marvel role as Black Widow or the lead of 2014’s Lucy. Johansson, despite acting in a movie that is relatively laid back to her other work, delivers throughout the film’s entirely. Both actors overwhelm the audience in their scenes of dialogue. Driver and Johansson were perfect choices for the roles of Charlie and Nicole; each character is compelling, and the story tears the audience apart between the two leads, asking us to take sides in their tragic separation.

Dern delivers as Nicole’s (Johansson) attorney

A few supporting actors also stand out. Most notably, Alan Alda, Ray Liotta (for Charlie) and Laura Dern (for Nicole), do excellent jobs as the lawyers of the parting couple, representing the two to their best effort in the court of law.

The cinematography in this film is also very well done. The camera angles, raw audio, and lighting help to demonstrate the emotion of many scenes. Also, the movie’s soundtrack is very fitting, providing some appropriate music for transition scenes and those without dialogue.

Overall, Marriage Story is undeniably one of the best movies that I’ve seen this decade. The film did a great job in showing the complexities of divorce and how even the smallest of differences can even

Marriage Story has high hopes going into the upcoming Oscars, being nominated for six awards.

tually lead to the total fallout of a relationship, and pit the two parties against each other, often tearing their children or respective families apart in the process. This movie would definitely resonate with those who have experienced divorce in their own lives, and could maybe even help people struggling with it better understand their own situation and handle it better in the future as a result. Marriage Story is a definite must-watch, and don’t be surprised to see it take home a few Oscars February 9th.