An all-star cast comes together to tell an all too familiar story of a once-happy couple going through a divorce – a story where the ending is just the beginning.
Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver are Nicole and Charlie, a married couple who are in the process of separating, in a film that feels a long way from the bright lights of Hollywood.
Marriage Story could be happening in any town or city – and in a sense it is, as many of the emotional touchpoints in this compassionately produced movie will hit home with anyone whose own life has been touched by divorce.
Unlike many movies in this genre, Marriage Story is not obsessed with the couple themselves, but also looks at the impact the process has on their wider family, including their son Henry (Azhy Robertson) and Nicole’s mother Sandra (Julie Hagerty).
Appearances by Laura Dern as Nicole’s divorce lawyer, Ray Liotta and Alan Alda give the production true star status and put a painstakingly written script in safe hands throughout.
A true story?
Marriage Story is not strictly a true story, but is an amalgamation of many of them. Writer director Noah Baumbach separated from his former wife, the actress Jennifer Jason Leigh, in 2013.
His own experiences and those of his peers who have been through the same process formed the research for this project and it shines through in the level of realism that is portrayed on screen.
In particular, Baumbach has said in interviews that he wanted to tell the full story of divorce, including family members, divorce lawyers and mediators who all become a part of the process.
What really stands out – especially from a writer who has been on one side of a divorce in the past – is the even hand with which Marriage Story is scripted.
Nobody is the ‘good guy’ in this movie. Instead the divorce itself becomes the central character while Johansson and Driver are almost supporting cast members to help tell the story of their characters’ separation.
Worth a watch?
Marriage Story has already picked up several awards including Audience Choice Best Studio Film at the San Diego International Film Festival, and awards for Laura Dern as Supporting Actress and Randy Newman as Composer at the Hollywood Film Awards.
It’s been really well received, and it’s not hard to see why, with the trailers alone driving some audience members to tears.
Whether you’ve been through a divorce first-hand, in your family or you’ve never directly experienced it at all, Marriage Story is well worth putting on your Netflix watch list as an impressively authentic glimpse into the end of a marriage and the beginning of what happens next.
The important take home message of this film is that love doesn’t die, a family survives divorce, with ex partners staying as friends. Through divorce mediation this type of outcome is easier than you might think. Choosing mediation means you and your family can find dignity in divorce.