13th Dec2019

‘Marriage Story’ Review (Netflix)

by Alex Ginnelly

Stars: Adam Driver, Scarlett Johnson, Julia Greer, Azhy Robertson, Wallace Shawn, Matthew Shear, Julie Hagerty, Laura Dern, Ray Liotta, Alan Alda | Written and Directed by Noah Baumbach

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Adam Driver and Scarlett Johnson star in Noah Baumbach’s fabulous Marriage Story; a stunning look into the death of a marriage, perfectly capturing laugh out loud moments and tear jerking sequences, in one of the finest films of the year.

There’s a magic in this film that seems impossible to capture with the subject matter the film deals with. Divorce never sounds pretty and at times in Marriage Story it isn’t, however Noah Baumbach and the two incredible leads have managed to make a film so sweet, so sad and so funny that it really does leave you questioning if you’ll see anything better this year.

Unlike 1979’s Kramer vs Kramer we’re not sure who to side with in this tale of divorce, we get to see both sides of this story. We get to see that these two people did love each other, and in a way are still very much in love. It’s this dynamic that gives the film such a fresh feel that’s beautiful in both theory and even more so in execution. This execution is masterfully composed by Baumbach, who’s previous work such as The Squid and the Whale, Frances Ha, and The Meyerowitz Stories has all led to this outstanding achievement. He allows the camera to move freely and effortlessly around the space of the characters, allowing the actors to showcase their wonderful talent in a string of glorious long takes. He’s not afraid to let the actors act, not afraid to let the camera stay on them for as long as possible, it draws us in with such a powerful effect.

It’s these performances that are so breathtaking it makes you wonder if anyone else should even turn up to the Oscars this year, and if we should just give them their golden statues now. It’s the best Scarlett Johansson has ever been and shows that Adam Driver is truly one of the most gifted actors of his generation. Their performances and the power they command allows you to feel for both of their sides, allows them to both be flawed and real. Not only are these leads fantastic, but there are some truly great supporting actors such as Ray Liotta, Alan Alda, and Laura Dern – who will also be looking to bring home an Oscar for this performance.

The most powerful aspect for me, however, was just how fluid the drama was. At times it felt like a legal, court room drama, others it was almost a slap stick comedy with one great sequence involving ‘being served’, and another involving a knife. It’s also heartbreakingly emotional, yet woven through all of that is this beautifully kind and loving film. Despite the hate and anger that divorce brings, at it’s core it’s a generous movie about love, one that you should hold your hands out to and accept as a gift.

***** 5/5

Marriage Story is available to watch on Netflix now.

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