Marriage Story

Marriage Story 2

By Joanna Langfield

Noah Baumbach’s funny and sad ode to the cycles of a marriage sends a laser beam to the heart. Proving the power of small moments, this remarkable piece takes us on a finely tuned and beautifully acted ride that is hard to shake.

Even with references to classics such as “Kramer vs. Kramer”, this timeless story of divorce feels very much of today. A theater director and his once-was-a-movie-actor wife lead a burgeoning off-Broadway company, living in a book filled Brooklyn apartment with their young son. We meet them as they are about to separate. With the help of a well meaning arbitrator, this is a couple that intends to co-parent and split amicably. Somehow, they and we discover, that’s not the way things work. There are courts, parents, precedents, all sorts of influences that wend their way in. Under the pressure, the passionate reasons behind the divorce shoot to the surface. Can it all simmer down into an understanding, an acceptance that brings us all to a place that hopefully is best for everyone?

Baumbach, as writer and director, packs an astonishing amount into this aware and intimate portrait. And he is ably assisted by his impeccable cast. There isn’t one false move, from Julie Hagerty and Ray Liotta, to Alan Alda and Laura Dern, each actor is given at least a few moments to shine and boy, do they ever. Of course, the heavy lifting goes to a remarkable Scarlett Johansson, who injects her departing wife with a relatable, grounded ambition. But it is Adam Driver who, once again, astounds. A man confident enough to run a theater company is now knocked off the pedestal of his own making. He has a lot to learn, to truly stand on his own two feet, with and without someone who loves him enough to ties his shoelaces.