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Marriage Story (2019)

Discussion in 'Movies' started by JoeStemme, Nov 10, 2019.

  1. Message #1 of 13 Nov 10, 2019
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 11, 2019
    JoeStemme

    JoeStemme Agent

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    [​IMG]
    Title: Marriage Story (2019)

    Tagline: Where there's a love, there's a way.

    Genre: Drama

    Director: Noah Baumbach

    Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Adam Driver, Laura Dern, Alan Alda, Ray Liotta, Merritt Wever, Mark O'Brien, Azhy Robertson, Brooke Bloom, Julie Hagerty, Matthew Shear, Kyle Bornheimer, Mickey Sumner, McKinley Belcher III, Wallace Shawn, Amir Talai

    Release Date:

    Runtime: 136

    Plot: A stage director and his actor wife struggle through a grueling, coast-to-coast divorce that pushes them to their personal and creative extremes.




    MARRIAGE STORY. In Limited Release. Netflix Dec. 6th

    It's no secret that behind the benign title, Noah Baumbach's newest is really a 'Divorce Story' (I suppose it makes it more marketable and palatable on a marquee). After a somewhat rosy prologue we truly meet our New York City couple: Nicole (Scarlet Johannson), a 30 something Actress who started out in Hollywood. Charlie (Adam Driver), a 30 something theater Director who uses Nicole as his muse. They are in a therapy session trying to avert a Divorce, but, it's clear from the outset that it's inevitable.

    From that start point, the film (shot on 35mm) progresses on pretty much a steady plain - Arguments. Accusations. The woman moving out (back to L.A.). The hiring of Divorce attorneys. The attorneys argue. Etc. etc. Also, another predictable element: The cute kid (Henry played by Azhy Robertson) caught in the tug of war in between. Is "Henry" a nod to KRAMER VS. KRAMER's Justin Henry? (there's also a not so subtle nod to Ingmar Bergman's SCENES FROM A MARRIAGE tucked in)

    What keeps the film flowing is the fine performances of Johannson and Driver. I've usually found Driver to be too diffident to be really effective, but, here, he delivers his strongest acting yet. Johansson has always been appealing, and is more than fine here. The Supporting cast is also fine including Laura Dern, Alan Alda and Ray Liotta as the trio of lawyers involved in the case, Merrit Wever as Nicole's sister, and a pleasant surprise in seeing Julie Hagerty as her mom (didn't even recognize her as it's been years since I've seen her in anything even if she has been semi-active).

    Still, as effective as the ensemble is, and as punchy a script as Baumbach has written can be at times, the film's arc comes off as a bit flat. Other than flashbacks, we never get to really see the true dynamics of the marriage. The pair too often come off as self-absorbed narcissists (not uncommon in Baumbach's writing). They say they are mismatched, but are they really? It wouldn't be a stretch to think that some viewers will say that they 'deserve each other'. The principle argument seems to be over whether they should base in L.A. or New York, rather than something catastrophically wrong in their relationship.

    Now, it's also no secret that Baumbach has based his screenplay partly on his own divorce from Actress Jennifer Jason Leigh. That very public split also involved Baumbach's affair (and now full relationship) with actress Greta Gerwig (there's even a nod to her Directing nomination). But, MARRIAGE STORY softens that critical detail, and that's unfortunate. Not because a filmmaker should air their dirty laundry on screen*, but, because with that crucial event (or something akin), the story seems not only incomplete but it also makes the couple seem even more selfish. To substitute, Baumbach has included a knock down drag out argument between the pair where they vent and vent and vent. Like much of the movie, it's well acted, but, still has a certain hollowness at its core.

    MARRIAGE STORY is a rare adult film in a sea of lite entertainment. The acting is extremely good, and worth seeing for it. But, they are let down by the less than candid characters.

    * See Woody Allen's HUSBANDS AND WIVES for a more honest take.
     
  2. TravisR

    TravisR Studio Mogul

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    I love Baumbach's movies so I'm looking forward to this.
     
  3. Jake Lipson

    Jake Lipson Lead Actor

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    My arthouse has this booked for the end of the month. I'm glad to have an opportunity to see it in a theater and will do that for sure.
     
    TravisR likes this.
  4. Jeff Adkins

    Jeff Adkins Cinematographer

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    Saw this last night. It's tremendous in every way. Amazing performances by the entire cast, compelling story, well-written screenplay and Randy Newman brings one of the best scores of the year.

    5/5
     
    GlennF, TravisR and Jake Lipson like this.
  5. GlennF

    GlennF Second Unit
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    Agree with Jeff Adkins. Saw this today at the TIFF Lightbox in Toronto. Excellent movie and both leads were fantastic. I know people who have gone through divorce, including my parents, and I totally got how the situation kept escalating and the emotional games you play with each other - often using your kids as pawns. Some devastating scenes. At the moment Driver and Johansson are my top contenders for best actor and actress and I have to say, up to now, I have never really warmed up to Driver. Mind changed!
     
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  6. MartinP.

    MartinP. Screenwriter

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    Can't say I agree with you guys. My biggest problem with the film is that it's set up that they both want an amicable divorce, and the reasons aren't hateful between them, but it escalates to those point's...so why do I want to watch these two decent enough people go through all this? As an audience member I'm not rooting for or against either one of them.

    There are interesting supporting characters, and Laura Dern is outstanding, but I can't say I was enjoying this look at an unraveling divorce between two decent people. I also didn't think the actor playing their son was very good.
     
  7. Wayne_j

    Wayne_j Producer

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    It opens at my arthouse tomorrow.
     
  8. GlennF

    GlennF Second Unit
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    I think that is the point of the movie. I have seen many couples say the split is going to be "amicable" and then money or kids becomes issues and the venom starts to fly. Two nice, decent people, but divorce can turn you into a totally different creature. The movie reflects reality.
     
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  9. Jake Lipson

    Jake Lipson Lead Actor

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    This is a nuclear take which most people will probably think is worth revoking my film fan card for, but it's mine:

    Netflix's best horse to back at this year's Oscars is not The Irishman. It's Marriage Story.

    I wrote in the Irishman thread that I admired the craft of that film more than I actually connected with it on an emotional level. Marriage Story worked for me on every level, both in terms of how it was crafted and the emotion behind it. There was not a moment I didn't believe, or where I wasn't deeply invested, in the story this movie was telling with these characters. Even when it was devastating to watch -- and in many cases, it was -- I couldn't look away.

    I love both Driver and Johansson in their giant franchise work, and I believe they love that, too. But this film simply provides a different type of challenge than Kylo Ren or Black Widow do, and I think it's clear that they found that invigorating. They are both extraordinary.

    As a huge Sondheim fan, I also found it interesting that Marriage Story brings the number of potential Best Picture nominees which feature his songs up to three. "Being Alive," in particular, is presented here in a completely different context than that in which it appears in Company, and it was really interesting to hear it in context of a divorce story instead of a story about finding a romantic connection. Driver also sung it really well, and somebody should cast him in a screen musical like yesterday.
     
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  10. benbess

    benbess Producer

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    This movie looks so depressing, but with the raves it's getting I'll probably grit my teeth and watch it.
     
  11. Jake Lipson

    Jake Lipson Lead Actor

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  12. Wayne_j

    Wayne_j Producer

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    I saw this excellent but depressing film today at my local arthouse. Between this and the Irishman I prefer the Irishman but not by much. If Netflix continues to produce awards quality films I will continue to seek them out in theaters when possible. They are worth it.
     
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  13. Tino

    Tino Executive Producer
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    Just finished watching it. It was tremendous. And I didn’t think it was depressing per se.

    Amazing powerhouse performances by Johannsen and Driver with scenes that will rip your heart out. Amazing writing and direction by Noah Baumbach.

    One of the years best for sure.
     
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