“Marriage Story,” directed by Noah Baumbach, starring Scarlett Johansson, Adam Driver, Laura Dern, Shawn Wallace, Ray Liotta, Alan Alda among others. The film is available to stream on Netflix.
This movie is about the story of a divorce that excavates a marriage that falls apart.
I could relate to the story with my own marriage and divorce. Nicole, played by Johansson, feels like she’s never really known what she wanted or gotten a say. From the divorce lawyers from both perspectives to the rumor mill and well-meaning friends’ advice, it is at times hilarious but also contains a stinging ring of truth. The “concerned” assistant who only wants to “help.” A custody battle with the child in the middle, child “gear,” carseats mixed with anger, frustration, and fear.
The discussions with the lawyers are just absurd, yet so funny. You need an apartment here, don’t rent your apartment out there, spend as much time with your kid, on and on.
Watching the film now after being separated for more than a year it isn’t as fresh in my mind and my heart I was able to laugh at the absurdity of divorce court and divorce lawyers. Parts of it make me really angry too, no matter how long removed from the relationship. The arguing and yelling and the anger and rage of the pain and grief you feel while you are going through a divorce was all completely real.
Being interviewed by a CFI and then a discussion of the difference between a good mother and father in America was a very fascinating scene. The awkwardness of sharing a meal with an outsider you’ve never met before and then trying to act natural in a conversation with your 8-year-old, trying to pretend they aren’t there was done so well.
Both Driver and Johansson were outstanding and while it might seem ridiculous, I didn’t find the divorce process portrayed as particularly farfetched. Laura Dern played an excellent villain. Baumbach’s direction of scenes and shots and the different aspects he captured were superb. Baumbach wrote the movie’s screenplay as well.
The film was nominated for six Oscars including: Best Picture, Best Actress (Johansson), Best Actor (Driver), Best Supporting Actress (Dern), Best Original Screenplay, and Best Score (Randy Newman). Dern has already won a Golden Globe and SAG for her performance.
The tears in my grief process have dried up. It was part of my story, but not the end of it. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to endure, but now it is over. The decisions you make, the choices facing you throughout the process, and how it changes you along the way, are difficult, but you must move forward.
While the subject matter of the movie is the one of the worst parts of life that more and more people have the unfortunate displeasure to endure, the film was dead on in the best possible way. The portrayal was real, raw, heart-breaking and gut-wrenching.
My final reflection on the film is this: I don’t know how any person in their right mind could go to law school thinking, This is what I want to spend the rest of my life, my 9-to-5, doing day in and day out. I am sure the money is great, but really, talk about selling your soul.