Directed by Noah Baumbach, Marriage Story explores the gruelling pain of divorce, both financially and psychologically. Revolving around Charlie and Nicole, a creative couple living in New York with their son, Henry, the story develops and changes through the legal proceedings of the divorce.
Charlie and Nicole visit a couple’s counsellor to reach a negotiation over their uncoupling. Scarlett Johansson takes on the role of Nicole, a kind-hearted prima donna who found a career in Charlie’s off-Broadway plays. Charlie’s character is portrayed by Adam Driver, who is a selfish, avant-garde theatre director. Nicole and Charlie are competing against each other, which is evident as the legal proceedings take place.
Baumbach has a knack for instilling realism in his film. Marriage Story is raw to the point that you can assume the process was almost therapeutic for him. The unusually loud, fast, and claustrophobic feeling is placed in the midst of an otherwise smooth edit, accompanied by a sound, tracking Charlie’s movement and behaviour. The film takes on a very objective look at the story — from the character’s perspectives.
The pivotal moments in the film are quick and anxious, cuts are quicker, profiles are tighter and conversations are faster. The argument that unfolds between Nicole and Charlie instantly switches their roles. Each line is begging to be answered. This is evident during the Halloween scene when Nicole, a literal and metaphorical director, suggests Charlie to dress up as a ghost. We see Charlie losing control of the situation in his own life for first time since his childhood.
The story of the divorce is not only a part of the actual story, but has been used for enhancing the emotions. The theme of duality is scattered everywhere. For this film, “no” means choosing the side to do the right thing. The focus on the closing moments during the divorce has a sense of panic and something unnatural. The emptiness and white production design serve a purpose.
The film is vulnerable and emits a lot of inevitability within marriages and relationships. Marriage Story touches on the immortality of the love that sparks a connection. A love that only a few get to experience.