Author Topic: Marriage Story  (Read 461 times)

Offline perc2100

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Marriage Story
« on: January 25, 2020, 12:29:02 PM »
It's the time of year when I frantically try to catch up on the Academy Award nominated-films.  I've seen most of the nominees (though I didn't get the chance to write about LITLE WOMEN, a film I really liked, and didn't catch FORD v FERRARI), finishing up over the next few days seeing PARASITE & JOJO RABBIT.  As a HS band director my time gets eaten up by marching band in the fall, and I overcompensate Thanksgiving-February with all the great films I maybe missed.  Today I watched MARRIAGE STORY.

This movie practically broke me. I'm a 20+ year married dad of two, with our youngest son being close to the age of the son in this film, and watching this couple fight, try to make up, tear each other to shreds, cry, and strive to be the best parents is moving.

I try to see movies "cold," wanting to know as little as possible about a film before I see it. This film seemingly begins in happy times, which is what I was expecting: a three-act structure of 1) happy marriage 2) problems 3) divorce or reconciliation. The film seemingly starts happy, with the couple each monologuing individually about everything they love about their spouse. But the film pulls the rug out from under us quickly, as we realize the couple is really in couple's therapy, with lists they were 'ordered' to make but don't want to necessarily share in the awkward settings of a cramped office with a pseudo-stranger prying into your personal life.

The marriage quickly goes into the downward spiral, with actress wife Scarlett Johansson (Nicole) moving back to LA with her mom & son to shoot a TV pilot, and husband Adam Driver (Charlie) trying to stay in New York City to maintain his career as a Broadway play director. The film is mainly about the divorce process, with son Henry being caught in the middle. Nicole gets hooked up with a shark of a divorce lawyer, played by the impeccable Laura Dern (Nora), who immediately turns the screws and ratchets up the heat for Charlie. Charlie thought this would be an 'easy' separation with mostly hashing things out with Nicole, but instead feels ambushed by a lawyer going after everything she can in the best interests of Nicole.

Charlie quickly hires budge-lawyer Alan Alda before dropping serious bank to go to war with fellow-shark Ray Liotta. What follows is roughly 90 minutes of grinding, sometimes petty-feeling arguing and fighting.

The heart of this film is all of the incredible acting going on. Director Noah Baumbach not only perfectly cast this film, but got amazing performances out of all. This may be Johansson's best acting, and Driver turns in what's clearly a deeply personal performance likely fueled by his own experiences as the son of a divorce: channeling his feelings into a tour de force of a performance. Driver has established himself as one of the premier actors of his generation, elevating an already strong film to the highest levels with his depth of emotions. As a father myself, it was was to feel the sadness, pain, frustration, sheer anger, and finally acceptance of the situation through the eyes of Driver. Anyone who mostly associates him with Kylo Ren (easily one of the most interesting characters of the Star Wars saga, made so almost exclusively by Driver's performance) will smirk at some of Charlie's moments of rage, being reminded of Ren's temper tantrums, but be taken aback when Charlie breaks down in tears: hearing him deliver a painful denouement as the sort of last-act of the divorce procedure before finally settling.

This film has a simplistic plot: minimalist, maybe. But the film is all about experiencing: flat-out feeling the struggles of a once-promising couple's marriage disintegrate before our eyes. Even child actor Azhy Robertson turns in a nuanced performance where it's impossible to not be able to feel what he's going through as well. The romantics in the audience will be moved by this one, while the intellectuals can sit back and marvel at top-flight acting performances throughout.

Offline TardisMom

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Re: Marriage Story
« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2020, 12:37:35 PM »
For me this movie is an example of why movies belong in theatres, not on your tv on Netflix (or whatever).  I couldn't sit still.  This movie never grabbed me and kept me in my seat.  The acting was great, but for me it never rose above a made-for-tv movie.  Maybe I would have seen it differently if I was in a dark theatre, forced to pay attention?

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Re: Marriage Story
« Reply #2 on: Today at 01:53:49 AM »

Offline kmy

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Re: Marriage Story
« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2020, 01:21:35 PM »
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For me this movie is an example of why movies belong in theatres, not on your tv on Netflix (or whatever).  I couldn't sit still.  This movie never grabbed me and kept me in my seat.  The acting was great, but for me it never rose above a made-for-tv movie.  Maybe I would have seen it differently if I was in a dark theatre, forced to pay attention?
It was perfect for me to watch it over two nights, split in half. I really got into the performances that way but never felt bored by the pacing. Agree with OP that all the actors turn in some of their best performances ever.

Offline NCDS

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Re: Marriage Story
« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2020, 01:32:05 PM »
Performances were great but it fell short to me.  I felt bored most of the movie and often asked myself why do I continue to watch this.  I don't suggest people waste their time on this.
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Offline marcia29

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Re: Marriage Story
« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2020, 02:44:31 PM »
I really struggled to get through this movie. It felt like a dang miniseries! I really liked most of the performances, yet the script was...arduous.
It is 2020, so...where's my flyin' car??!!

Offline ombregrey

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Re: Marriage Story
« Reply #5 on: February 04, 2020, 11:29:04 PM »
Overall, I thought the script was great and the acting. I liked Laura Dern's LA divorce lawyer shark character. But the downside for me was the pacing of the movie, it was slow at times.

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Offline perc2100

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Re: Marriage Story
« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2020, 08:50:17 AM »
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Overall, I thought the script was great and the acting. I liked Laura Dern's LA divorce lawyer shark character. But the downside for me was the pacing of the movie, it was slow at times.

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Yeah, it seems there's more than a few people with that assessment.  Oddly I saw this movie over two 'sessions,' where I saw the first half, went to kickboxing class, came home and watched the 2nd half.  Maybe in that unconventional way I didn't notice a slower pacing.  I think for me personally, I'm a father of a boy about the same age as the kid in the movie, and I've had plenty of friends who have gone through divorces (and who's kids have suffered messy parent divorces) so the film connected to me in a way that I didn't notice or mind the pacing.  The movie isn't exactly a revolution as far as story arcs go: heck, it's very similar thematically to Oscar winner KRAMER vs KRAMER so I also get people maybe not being engaged during slower points w/out any sort of fresh-feeling narrative.

The good & bad of streaming movies is we can watch them at our leisure, regardless of director's intent (see a myriad of people likely watching THE IRISHMAN over multiple sessions - I've done that on subsequent viewings after my first couple).  Tarantino has done something similar with his HATEFUL EIGHT, where he added footage and broke it up into chapters to make it feel like a miniseries vs a feature-length film: he's already said he'll likely do the same thing with ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD in the next year or two.

I felt MARRIAGE STORY was pretty episodic which made the pacing feel fine to me.  Maybe I'll try to revisit it in the near future if I get the time to reassess the pacing concerns (I've already got a few movie tickets this week & I _still_ need to watch PARASITE before the weekend  ??? )

Offline ombregrey

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Re: Marriage Story
« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2020, 10:07:15 AM »
I also still need to watch Parasite . I'm a big fan of Korean tv and movies .

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Offline perc2100

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Re: Marriage Story
« Reply #8 on: February 06, 2020, 08:54:50 AM »
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I also still need to watch Parasite . I'm a big fan of Korean tv and movies .

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Yeah, SNOWPIERCER (also by PARASITE writer/director Bong Joon-Ho) is a favorite movie of mine, and I really liked his OKJA as well.  Being busy is rarely a bad thing, but sometimes I wish I could be busy watching movies instead of working: or really, adulting in general.  :P