Marriage Story is this generation’s Kramer vs. Kramer. Baumbach’s opus is an incredibly nuanced depiction of two hearts being obliterated. The narrative is rich and complex, showcasing how the littlest moments are what ultimately lead to this devastating point in their lives. Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson, Laura Dern, and Alan Alda are marvels on screen. Driver and Johansson give career-defining performances that will all but certainly lead to nominations at both the Golden Globes and the Oscars (with Dern likely joining them). Baumbach’s meticulous approach behind the camera is precisely what this story needed. His use of closeups and handheld shots helped to emphasize the weight of the moments and events that transpire.
Without getting too much into the story (and believe you me .. there’s much to it), Marriage Story is the story behind what lead to Charlie and Nicole’s divorce. Charlie (Driver) is a theater director, and Nicole (Johansson) is a former movie star turned Broadway actress. They have a child together, and he ultimately becomes lost in the shuffle of what occurs. Nicole feels that her wants have been suppressed for way too long while Charlie feels her desire to separate at first is just a phase. Marriage Story perfectly blends these two stories, not taking sides but clearly emphasizing the tragic nature of what’s to come.
Johansson’s performance is pitch-perfect showcasing Nicole’s incredible range of emotions as she attempts to recapture who she once was. Driver’s portrayal of Charlie is riveting to witness and increasingly frightening to watch. Marriage Story captures how incredibly tedious and complicated a divorce can be and how, even in the darkest of moments, love can still exist between two individuals. In many ways, this film is a snapshot of America. This horror story is unfolding throughout the United States daily. These days, being happily married is more the exception than the rule.
Marriage Story is the best movie I’ve seen in 2019, and it’s not even close. While I’m sure some of my colleagues will argue that there’s more to come, I can’t imagine any of those achieving this level of perfection. Marriage Story shows that even during the darkest of hours that love can still guide us through tragic circumstances.