★★★★★ Watched 12 Dec, 2019
The director Baumbach pulled me in right away with very intimate close-ups in the first 7 minutes during which the main two characters played by Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver describe one another in a flattering way. It is essentially a love story told in reverse as we get to know the couple during the divorce procedure.
The whole movie has been approached like a theater play with only a bunch of outdoor scenes and face close-ups chosen very carefully and thoughtfully. I was pleasantly surprised by both actors, especially Johansson’s ability to emote a whole range of situations in a relaxed and natural, yet completely realistic fashion.
There are several scenes I could directly relate to since I’m a father of two young boys. It never ceases to amaze me how similar we all are no matter where in the world we are presently raising kids. Co-sleeping, bathroom routine, use of tablet/phone, talking about not liking particular friend any longer…
I found it interesting how some viewers got the impression that the movie portraits one of the two main characters in a more favorable light, because I saw them as well balanced, each with their own flaws and strengths. I guess that must be heavily influenced by your own life experiences and situation coupled with a level of personal growth. I went through a divorce, which was emotionally extremely taxing, but we managed to split in a civilized way. I contribute that to the fact that kids were not involved, which complicates any situation and heightens the emotions and stakes as it is evident in this movie.
I would warmly recommend it for any couple at any stage of their relationship as it will most certainly bring many important self-reflecting questions, which should lead to deeper conversations between the couple.
3 thoughts on “Marriage Story (2019)”
What I liked most about this movie was how you could interpret it based on your own experiences. It’s universal and yet personal in a very magical way. Johansson’s character seemed more of a mystery to me because throughout the movie she kept trying to assert herself over Driver’s character. This, I felt, was because he had been manipulative and controlling throughout their marriage and divorce was finally what allowed her to be herself again.
He failed to see his wife as she was and didn’t respect her wishes. In this sense, it felt to me like the relationship wasn’t a partnership but more old-fashioned in the sense of “wife supports husband and falls into the background”. Even though she was a great actress, it seems, though we never got to see her act a lot of people admired her. In fact, in one scene, someone mentions they hope she goes through with the divorce because her husband wasn’t letting her shine*
She was so indecisive but at the same time, it’s like she thought his decisions were better so she followed him into whatever he fancied.
Divorce gave her the chance to become herself – something she never quite got to be. Love isn’t always enough to salvage a relationship, and if there isn’t enough oxygen in it… It suffocates.
I’ve been married for almost a year, not even thinking of divorce, but this movie gave me tons of learnings.
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*I can’t remember the exact scene, so just paraphrasing.
I agree that there’s more implied with her character than with his, even though you are supposed to read between the lines and fill in the gaps from your own experiences, which may not be identical but the notion is there. So not to try to guess what happened that the movie didn’t show, but to fill the gaps with your own interpretations. Those types of movies are timeless because the relationship dance has not changed that much over the last 100 years, even though the society and the balance between the sexes did.
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