Marriage Story

Marriage Story ★★★★★

96

What I love about Marriage Story:

To begin, it's a movie about the pain within all people. What partners, in the midst of desolation, will do to protect their own self-interest. How their love is systematically broken down and fractured in the pursuit of monetary/property gain, control over their children, and the cold, ruthless separation of a friendship. Their anguish is lesser at the beginning, but in the midst of lawyers and outside opinions, it expands fruitlessly as they find more reasons to be petty, to ignore the sympathy they once began with. This pain is rooted in not recognizing a shattered dynamic, one seemingly beyond repair, if only for their selfish desires as individuals. What Nicole and Charlie believe to be true - maintaining their maturity during the separation, being the best they can be for their son, Henry, and going through the process with respect - soon turns sour when nothing can be understood as mutual in the first place. The resentment explodes when they both realize they know nothing of themselves.

Marriage Story is also a movie about companionship. How your partner in your life, no matter the destruction at hand, still is the only body you can cling to, the only person that can notice your shoes need to be re-tied, the life that has immeasurably affected how you live each and every day. Their presence has defined a large section of your life, and now they hate you. Or so they say. The letters written and the joy shared, the little grace-notes and bedtime stories laid out in emotional gut-punch montage, culminates in a film of tender, often unbearable feeling.

Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson offer up the performances of their careers in the pursuit of observing one household become multiple, a child learning to ask about mom and dad as separate people, each with their own spaces, their own feelings and ideas. It's often hilarious, soul-piercing, and frustrating within the same scene. Noah Baumbach's sense of timing has never been tighter, more organically controlled than it is here. Every line, every cut, every set-up and gag, flows like water and yet the precision lingers, with the help of Randy Newman's charming, often heartbreaking score. The dual locations of New York and L.A, a clear dichotomy of culture and lifestyle, becomes the geographical representation of a rift between two people that will never be filled again. To see these actors, and this writer/director, transverse that confusing, painful space between separated souls is both a pleasure and a harrowing experience.

To put it succinctly, I'm floored.

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