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Film Review: “Marriage Story” (2019) ★★★★★

© 2019 – Netflix

Marriage – What does it bring? Many will say it helps to build a family. But the same marriage does break down after falling apart. Indeed, it’s a circle of life whether we want it or not some of us must go through. However, we all have a choice to make, a choice that should not affect others and whatever we do should be as peaceful as possible. As you know, sadly, that’s not always the case. Because a marriage story can end in millions of different ways and Noah Baumbach brings one of the most heartbreaking ones.

Charlie (Adam Driver) and Nicole (Scarlett Johansson) were happily married. They have an eight-year-old son, Henry (Azhy Robertson) they both adore. They would care about each other, share sweet memories together. She even abandoned her acting career in L.A. to work in New York, in his theater on Broadway. It seemed there was nothing which could’ve disrupted that idyllic marriage until the moment he has been served. From that moment on, events begin spiralling causing emotions will blow. Arguments will be heard, a fight will begin for the custody over their child. And no matter what, there will be no winner in this entire situation.

When the film begins, Charlie’s voice is heard who begins sharing what he loved about Nicole the most. Through his story, we see how their relationship unfolded. Then, it was Nicole’s turn whose story takes a different turn. This is when we getting an idea of what really went wrong in their relationship. As we’re left to follow their arc, we already can tell each and every one of them is right in their own way. For instance, Charlie is very close to Nicole’s family while Nicole has met Charlie’s only once. She is always occupied with Henry while he is busy directing his play on stage.

It’s shortly after that Nicole reveals to us her feelings about staying in New York, how she never made a single choice during their marriage while all that she would propose was considered by Charlie as a discussion, whereas whatever he would say was a done deal. Through that dynamic approach, we find ourselves in an ocean of excuses, reasons, and desperation. And while the lawyers take turns, things go ugly like every divorce, where both parties forget how strongly they once loved each other yet start a war that will continue both on and off the court.

It’s hard to define in any language how poignant and heartbreaking Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story” is. As soon as it starts, it makes you forget about the outside world. The one place you exist is either New York or California. Thus, time flies so fast that you won’t even notice it. Super delicate and subtle script written by master Baumbach is so detailed, it gives enough room to both Johansson and Driver to shine in every scene they are in. Somehow, Baumbach manages to dive microscopically into the marriage and divorce of one couple through his lens. He produces the clear image of what happens with a family when it loses it sense. And that’s the most devastating part of the film when you begin caring for Nicole and Charlie in your own way.

As for the performances, I can hardly describe how fabulous both Driver and Johansson were. Their emotionally charged scenes or rather the confrontation scene will give you the chills. It’s so real, almost like you’re watching your loved ones who try to hurt each other as much as possible through their accusation and you’re left helpless just watching them ruin each other. Both actors are impressive and amazingly real. They embody the characters they portray and own them as if it were really them.

In the end, as someone who has seen all of Baumbach’s films, this one is by far the strongest. Like a surgeon, he replaces the surgical blade with a pen to paint a searing portrait of a marriage that went awfully wrong. From the start, it begins smelling with brilliance, and by the time it ends, you realize it was one of the best films made in a very long time that talks about what many can relate to. Baumbach uses the power of transformative cinema as a tool in his hand, does whatever he wants, and throws at us a clear masterpiece on which Oscar is written all over. In fact, if there’s anything that stands out this year, it’s “Marriage story” which you most definitely must not miss.

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