When my parents divorced, my 12 year-old perfect world was blown apart. I was left wondering if it was my fault, as opposed to realizing their time had simply reached it’s final chapter. You know the old adage of everyone comes into your life for a reason, season or a lifetime? Well, truer words have never been spoken regarding relationships in the shape of divorce and marriage.
As human beings age, we are privy to wisdom, change and growth. Sometimes that growth spurt results in growing apart from what is familiar and comfortable. Sometimes, our growth spurt is stunted and suppressed and we dull our shine in order to allow our loved one to become a little bit brighter.
That’s precisely what happens to Charlie (Adam Driver) and Nicole (Scarlett Johansson) when life throws them a curve ball they don’t see coming. It challenges them and sends them down a trajectory that not only threatens life as they know it, but challenges their family dynamics moving toward the future.
Director writer, producer Noah Baumbach is one of my favorite directors, followed closely by his wife Greta Gerwig (Little Women, Lady Bird, Mistress America) and Marriage Story is hands down one of my favorite flicks for 2019. Why? It unabashedly illustrates how love goes terribly awry, while skillfully illustrating that you can love someone and not like them very much. How you can walk away from the relationship, but not walk away from your kids and negotiate what is best for them at the expense of your own happiness and comfortability.
Anyone who has ever had the misfortune of being part of a deteriorating marriage resulting in the ugliness that reveals itself in divorce will be able to wholeheartedly relate to this film. Johansson and Driver are giving career best performances that will break your heart and make your heart smile simultaneously. Both actors are very skilled at magically engrossing your attention for every possible frame, yet yearning for more when its done. This was a master class in controlled emotion at its best. Laura Dern and Alan Alda as the legal reps for the couple are compellingly ruthless who will stoop to any means necessary in order to receive the biggest settlement possible for their clients.
Don’t get it twisted, Marriage Story is not an ugly cry sob story. It is full of hope. Hope for a renewed, reinvigorated relationship in which Nicole and Charlie learn to exists in the type of friendship they were unable to discover as husband and wife. Get your tissues ready, grab a blanket and stream it now on Netflix.