Jump to content
Forums forums
PRIMETIMER
metaphor

Marriage Story (2019)

Recommended Posts


I really want to see this, but wish Scarlett Johansson wasn't one of the leads. Wasn't there a tree she could have played instead?

Edited by Brinny
  • Like 16

Share this post


Link to post

I look forward to the film generally, but one draw for me is that Randy Newman is scoring something other than an animated film. It's been a long time. Not that I have anything against animated films, and some of his work for the Pixar movies is very nice, but he used to mix it up more. His scores for RagtimeThe Natural, and Pleasantville were so beautiful, and the one for Avalon (Barry Levinson's movie about 50 years of his family in Baltimore) is one of my favorite movie scores of all time.

The advance word is that Marriage Story has another of his best.  

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post

It’s very good. I saw a screening in NYC two weeks ago where Baumbach even showed up for the intro. This is to thank Netflix for saving the theater in which we saw the film. I liked ScarJo even. 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post

Just watched this, it's phenomenally well-acted. I normally can't stand Scarlett Johansson but she was fantastic in this (as was Adam Driver).

  • Like 7

Share this post


Link to post

A new classic in the "family dissolution" genre (Scenes from a MarriageKramer vs. Kramer, Irreconcilable DifferencesThe War of the Roses, Blue ValentineBoyhood [somewhat], et cetera). Credit to Noah Baumbach for writing what he knows and not trying to give it tragic dimensions. These are privileged people who can afford -- albeit with some angst about it -- $900-an-hour attorneys, and their issues are such as which coast they're going to live on as they pursue their successful careers. But they're treated with empathy, and we wince along with them when their intimate details are weaponized by advocates who range from benign (Alda) to openly ruthless (Liotta) to stealth-ruthless (Dern, who would have stolen the picture if Johansson and Driver had not been doing some of the best work of their careers). Even people who still like each other and want a civil, no-drama divorce can slide down this slope. 

It was also nice to see Julie Hagerty of the iconic '80s comedies Airplane! and Lost in America as Johansson's mother. I haven't seen her in a movie since What About Bob? almost 30 years ago. When she first appeared, I had a moment of thinking, "That voice. Is it?" And it was.  

For several people, this is a big leap forward. I think it's Baumbach's best to date; Johansson has a surprising new maturity (I can imagine Laura Linney or Annette Bening in this role if it had been made when ScarJo was the starlet of The Man Who Wasn't There and Ghost World), and I don't think Driver has ever been able to show us this much of his range in a single film. It's already a major awards contender, and I expect it to do well as the season progresses.   

Edited by Simon Boccanegra
  • Like 7

Share this post


Link to post

I watched. I found it aimless. I don’t know what it’s saying or trying too say about marriage and divorce. I didn’t find it moving. The actor playing Henry was not good.  The courtroom scenes were silly and ridiculous. The home investigator was hilarious and so so wrong. That part was like a bad sitcom. 

  • Like 9

Share this post


Link to post

Just watched it, broke my heart but it is a beautiful film. 

I do like Scarlett, but for some reason I keep picturing Michelle Williams, one because it's the type of movie Michelle usually gravitates to, and second because of the hair (I know, it's stupid). 

I was aware that Adam Driver was a good, but now I think he's one of the best actors working today. 

  • Like 6

Share this post


Link to post
On 12/8/2019 at 12:38 AM, charliesan said:

I was aware that Adam Driver was a good, but now I think he's one of the best actors working today. 

I have always said he was the best thing about Girls and the ONLY thing that made me hold on for a season and a half of that show (and until not even for him could I keep torturing myself).

This film just furthered my already pretty cemented resolve to never get married and have children. The sad reality is marriage is really fucking hard because as humans we rarely ever stay the same.

Who you are in your 20's, may not be the same in your 30's, 40's, etc. And where it gets difficult is when the two people don't evolve together and one takes a left and the other a right and suddenly, you're like two strangers living together.

Thought all the actors did a good job but having seen the movie, a little confused by the award buzz for Laura Dern. I feel like this is all based on that one scene of her ranting about how mothers have to be perfect, in a way fathers are not expected to be.

And of course the hilarious analogy of God not even being a present father. And don't get me wrong, the rant was on point. But yeah, still don't think that was enough to be an award winning performance. I was bummed when Charlie got rid of Alan Alda as his lawyer because Arkin was hilarious. 

Edited by truthaboutluv
  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
1 hour ago, truthaboutluv said:

Thought all the actors did a good job but having seen the movie, a little confused by the award buzz for Laura Dern. I feel like this is all based on that one scene of her ranting about how mothers have to perfect, in a way fathers are not expected to be.

I don't discount that there may be an element of "She's due" there. She's been good in so many things now for so long, and arguably should have been nominated more than twice (for Rambling Rose and Wild).  Inland Empire is a tough film to get a handle on even for David Lynch fans, but anyone who watches her in it will have a hard time believing five female actors gave better performances that year. She's on screen constantly for three hours, playing every possible emotion and tone. It seems like five great performances in itself. 

However, I do get the buzz for her in Marriage Story, beyond the fondness/esteem factor and the scene you mention. It's a nicely shaded characterization. When Nora first appears, it's almost as though Nicole is seeing a therapist, and then in the negotiations, we see (not that we're surprised) what a pit bull is behind it. I think all of the major actors in the film do great work, but she has the plum part of the three attorneys. Another scene of hers I loved is when she sees Ray Liotta/Jay walking in and expresses her displeasure at this (they obviously have a history as rivals), and then she goes up to him and shifts to fake-nice "L..A power player" mode with the air kisses and the chat about fundraisers. 

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post

On 12/7/2019 at 6:35 PM, Simon Boccanegra said:

Johansson has a surprising new maturity (I can imagine Laura Linney or Annette Bening in this role if it had been made when ScarJo was the starlet of The Man Who Wasn't There and Ghost World

Yeah, given that Laura Linney played the mother in The Squid and the Whale I bet she would've been a top choice if this movie had been made around that time instead.

8 hours ago, Simon Boccanegra said:

Another scene of hers I loved is when she sees Ray Liotta/Jay walking in and expresses her displeasure at this (they obviously have a history as rivals), and then she goes up to him and shifts to fake-nice "L..A power player" mode with the air kisses and the chat about fundraisers. 

I actually didn't read that as fake-nice, although it could've been - I thought they might be genuinely friendly and cordial outside of the court room, moving in the same circles etc, but paralelling the people they'd represent in that once in the court room, they got ruthless. (It was the same way while Alda was still Charlie's lawyer - as soon as they mentioned lunch during their meeting they just sort of stepped out of their lawyer shoes and raved about the the food.) But she certainly came across as someone who WOULD do fake-nice when she needed to.

I really liked this, not sure if I loved it. I thought the balance between drama and comedy felt a little off sometimes, and some of the dialogue/monologuing felt too heavy-handed. Like something that would read really well as a play, on stage, but not quite on the screen. But Johansson and especially Driver were really, really good. Adam Driver is one of those actors who truly get under my skin - when he emotes, I really feel it. 

  • Like 6

Share this post


Link to post
20 hours ago, truthaboutluv said:

I I was bummed when Charlie got rid of Alan Arkin as his lawyer because Arkin was hilarious. 

Alan Alda was good, too 😂

  • Like 1
  • Laugh 6

Share this post


Link to post
On 12/8/2019 at 12:38 AM, charliesan said:

I was aware that Adam Driver was a good, but now I think he's one of the best actors working today. 

I agree. In fact I find him to be one of the better things about these new Star Wars films. He was great in this.  I figured he would be and he was still better then I thought he would be. 

I even liked Johansson a bit and I am not really a fan of hers. 

Laura Dern and Alan Alda were a joy as well. 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post

I rarely tear up in movies but Adam Driver almost made me a few times.   Can’t say I loved the movie though.  I felt in the beginning it tried to hard with too much dialogue.  Sometimes less is more.  But the last maybe 45 minutes seemed to mesh better.  I thought Scarlett Johansson’s character was selfish.  Maybe without children it would be a different story.  But she wasn’t abused and she had a decent life.  You work on the marriage for the sake of your children.  

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post

I never got the impression that either one of them was a bad person. Both were flawed and selfish, definitely, but no more than anyone else. Those lawyers though...Jesus. Charlie definitely should have stuck with Alan Alda's character, since hiring Ray basically all came to nothing.

Found Nicole to be a bit passive aggressive at times. I agree with whoever said Michelle Williams could have easily replaced ScarJo. 

This is actually the most likable I've found Adam Driver. And he sang beautifully.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post

Critics' Choice Award nominations:

Best Picture

Best Actor – Adam Driver

Best Actress – Scarlett Johansson

Best Supporting Actress – Laura Dern

Best Acting Ensemble

Best Director – Noah Baumbach

Best Original Screenplay – Noah Baumbach

Best Score – Randy Newman

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post

SAG Award nominations:

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role - Adam Driver

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role - Scarlett Johansson

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role - Laura Dern

Edited by ElectricBoogaloo
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post

I thought ScarJo was excellent and deserving of being nominated but I agree completely that Michelle Williams could have easily replaced her in this role.

Edited by benteen
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
On 12/11/2019 at 8:23 PM, Spartan Girl said:

I never got the impression that either one of them was a bad person. Both were flawed and selfish, definitely, but no more than anyone else. Those lawyers though...Jesus. Charlie definitely should have stuck with Alan Alda's character, since hiring Ray basically all came to nothing.

I totally agree. They were both right about some things and wrong about other things, and I don’t think either was really meant to be more in the right than the other. I do think that because Driver gave such an unbelievably strong performance, in some ways it feels easier to be sympathetic to him and see him as the victim of the situation when we factually know that isn’t really the case. Charlie’s genuine insistence that Nicole wouldn’t have purposely done things to give herself an advantage in the divorce proceedings was heartbreaking, but at the same time part of his confusion likely stemmed from the fact that Charlie was so used to everything being on his terms when it came to the marriage and their family. It was a nice metaphor that he was a director, and specifically her director, and that she didn’t get to direct until she started building a life without him. 

And another great point about the attorneys. Alan Alda basically spelled it out for him—if he got more aggressive, they would ask for half the grant money and he STILL wouldn’t get what he wanted in terms of where Henry would live. And yet you fully understand why he spent the money to hire Ray Liotta, even though it ended up being exactly what Alan Alda told him would happen.

Edited by Jillibean
  • Like 14

Share this post


Link to post

On 12/8/2019 at 7:12 PM, Simon Boccanegra said:

However, I do get the buzz for her in Marriage Story, beyond the fondness/esteem factor and the scene you mention. It's a nicely shaded characterization. When Nora first appears, it's almost as though Nicole is seeing a therapist, and then in the negotiations, we see (not that we're surprised) what a pit bull is behind it. I think all of the major actors in the film do great work, but she has the plum part of the three attorneys. Another scene of hers I loved is when she sees Ray Liotta/Jay walking in and expresses her displeasure at this (they obviously have a history as rivals), and then she goes up to him and shifts to fake-nice "L..A power player" mode with the air kisses and the chat about fundraisers. 

For me what nails it is from the literal second we meet Nora, probably before she opens her mouth, we know *exactly* who she is.  Dern tells us so much with the posturing and mannerisms of the character that even when she is nicely listening to Nicole and empathizing, and I believe it was genuine, that we still know there is a raging pit bull underneath and we are later proven right.  

And hey, the Chantix guy was in it!  I think that guy's got a future in this business.  In all seriousness my favorite line was when Jay was telling Charlie about his hourly rate vs his associate and he says "If you have any dumb questions, call Ted."

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post

I saw this last night and am in the "I didn't love it, but the acting was fantastic" crowd.  I agree with @BlackberryJam that the home investigator was odd.  She seemed like a caricature in an otherwise very real, human movie. 

I did tend to feel more sorry for Charlie, based on a few things, but I will say that, while I understand how lonely he must have felt with Nicole having withdrawn from him a year earlier, I wish he'd have resisted sleeping with his coworker and started a dialog with her about how he felt and asked her how she was feeling. 

The scene that moved me the most was when he was dragging his kid around Los Angeles looking for a place to trick or treat.  I've lived here more than half my life and I know how daunting it can be.  You have to know the right neighborhoods to go to and if you don't know the area, good luck.  I could almost feel how sad and frustrated he must have been.

The fight scene were Adam broke down was tough to watch, but the one that almost killed me, in regards to how good his acting was, was the final scene where he was reading her list of why she loved him.  Quivering chin, choking back the tears......damn, that was fantastic. 

 I liked Joaquin's performance in The Joker, but have been obsessed with Taron in Rocket Man.  However,  I would say, after seeing this (but, having not seen a couple of the other movies where the lead actors are in contention), that if Adam won, I'd be absolutely fine with it .  It would be a well deserved win, imo.

  • Like 8

Share this post


Link to post
1 hour ago, Shannon L. said:

The scene that moved me the most was when he was dragging his kid around Los Angeles looking for a place to trick or treat.  I've lived here more than half my life and I know how daunting it can be.  You have to know the right neighborhoods to go to and if you don't know the area, good luck.  I could almost feel how sad and frustrated he must have been.

Yeah, I think that was a low blow for Nicole to deal him, excluding him from the family trick or treating but "letting him take him somewhere else" knowing he wasn't that familiar with the area. And because she hacked into his email and confirmed he'd cheated. Like, wow. I mean I get that she was upset, but she had already made up her mind to go through the divorce regardless of whether he cheated or not. What does it matter now? It just kind of struck me as petty.

She could have at least given him directions to another neighborhood. Just saying.

  • Like 6

Share this post


Link to post

I liked this and thought the acting was great, especially Adam Driver. But I didn't love it. I think Nicole was underwritten, and Baumbach didn't want to to write the actual reason for his real-life breakup (involving Greta Gerwig), so he had to come up with a different motivation for her as a character, and he fell back on the whole thing about her needing her own identity apart from him (which by now is kind of an old story, that goes all the way back to Kramer vs. Kramer). I wasn't sure that was really strong enough motivation for her to do what she did, to be honest. The real story would have provided her with a LOT more anger and fury directed at him, and understandably so.

But he definitely kept in his own anger and frustration at what she was doing to him, and you could feel that in Driver's character throughout. So there was something in this that felt slightly dishonest to me, although the depiction of the divorce process was good, and how ugly it can get (I've actually seen way uglier).

I also thought the kid was treated as kind of a prop, and I think in reality kids that age are really affected by a nasty divorce in ways that can scar them for life. I don't know if they were trying to hint at that (sometimes he was treated like he was four rather than eight- what kind of an eight year old needs a booster seat in a car?) or Baumbach just didn't know how to write an eight year old, but the kid seemed to have no reaction to anything that was going on. 

I didn't mind the caricature of the home investigator or whatever- I had one of those when I was a kid in my parent's divorce and it was horribly awkward and uncomfortable. There is no way to make that feel natural, it must be a terrible job.

Edited by ruby24
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
1 hour ago, ruby24 said:

 I don't know if they were trying to hint at that (sometimes he was treated like he was four rather than eight- what kind of an eight year old needs a booster seat in a car?) or Baumbach just didn't know how to write an eight year old, but the kid seemed to have no reaction to anything that was going on. 

I agree about the way he was portrayed based on his age, but with the booster seats, I don't know what CA law is now (my kids are adults), but in Vermont, where my mom runs a day care, boosters  seats are required up to an age and/or height requirement.  I can't remember exactl what it is, but do remember being shocked by how old/tall they had to be. Eight sounds about right.

@Spartan Girl, I wasn't happy with what Nicole did at Halloween,  either.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
On 12/8/2019 at 3:11 PM, truthaboutluv said:

This film just furthered my already pretty cemented resolve to never get married and have children. The sad reality is marriage is really fucking hard because as humans we rarely ever stay the same.

Are you anti-marriage if you don't have kids?  Kids are a huge stressor on relationships, whether married or not, and make any breakup infinitely messier.

If people get married and don't have kids and then grow apart, divorce might not be easy but at least it's just the two people whose lives are upended.

.

6 hours ago, Shannon L. said:

The scene that moved me the most was when he was dragging his kid around Los Angeles looking for a place to trick or treat. 

Damn, that was awful.  But it looked like he was in a business district instead of a neighborhood.  He'd spent time out there before, so he wasn't completely unfamiliar with the place.  So I was disappointed that he dropped the ball to the extent he did, but the scene still killed me.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post

10 hours ago, ruby24 said:

Baumbach didn't want to to write the actual reason for his real-life breakup (involving Greta Gerwig), so he had to come up with a different motivation for her as a character, and he fell back on the whole thing about her needing her own identity apart from him (which by now is kind of an old story, that goes all the way back to Kramer vs. Kramer). I wasn't sure that was really strong enough motivation for her to do what she did, to be honest. The real story would have provided her with a LOT more anger and fury directed at him, and understandably so.

Yes, but he wasn't telling the story of his own marriage and divorce. That difference between fiction and reality is just one of many. Jennifer Jason Leigh certainly didn't appear in one famous teen-sex film and then decamp from Los Angeles. She was an award-winning, in-demand film and television actress for 20+ years before marrying Baumbach. Nicole has nothing like that résumé.  

I think he was drawing on his own experience and putting the emotional truth of it into the screenplay without intending to dramatize it.  

I thought Nicole's motivation was strong enough, even if it is familiar from other divorce movies. Charlie remains sympathetic, largely because of Adam Driver, but the more we see of him, the more plausible it is that he really didn't listen to her. And it is sad that this turned into such an impasse, when they obviously were well matched in a lot of ways and still cared about each other, but it happens.  

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post

@Shannon L. yes, the acting was good, really wonderful even, from the leads and the supporting. I really enjoyed Julie Hagerty.

But that kid...he didn't have one screaming meltdown, not one "I hate you both," not even any adjustment issues from NY to Cali. He was a prop. 

I suppose what bothered me so much is that while the film nailed the emotions of the spouses splitting up, it missed the legal mark by a mile. 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
On 12/15/2019 at 5:26 PM, Shannon L. said:

I agree about the way he was portrayed based on his age, but with the booster seats, I don't know what CA law is now (my kids are adults), but in Vermont, where my mom runs a day care, boosters  seats are required up to an age and/or height requirement.  I can't remember exactl what it is, but do remember being shocked by how old/tall they had to be. Eight sounds about right.

@Spartan Girl, I wasn't happy with what Nicole did at Halloween,  either.

I remember my former boss telling me that her son was 9 and still used a car seat. This was in NYC. I was like " ... 9?" and she said he was small for his age.

On 12/13/2019 at 1:48 PM, benteen said:

I thought ScarJo was excellent and deserving of being nominated but I agree completely that Michelle Williams could have easily replace her in this role.

And would have been better. I felt like I could see Scarlett Johansson acting here, in a way that I rarely do with Michelle Williams. (I remember in Manchester by the Sea, thinking "They don't really need Michelle Williams for this," and then a crucial scene at the end of the movie happens and I was like "Oh, that's why she's here. Okay.") I thought Driver was excellent though.

On 12/15/2019 at 4:06 PM, ruby24 said:

I also thought the kid was treated as kind of a prop, and I think in reality kids that age are really affected by a nasty divorce in ways that can scar them for life.

I agree. At best, divorce is a huge disruption in routine. That's especially true here, when Nicole was trying to move him across the country, and we also know that this wasn't an amicable "we care about each other and want the best for each other but we've grown apart" divorce. There was venom everywhere, and kids can sense that. It was really weird to me that there was no change in the kid's behavior - no acting out, no opinion at all on where he wanted to live.

I'm not a lawyer but it seemed pretty far-fetched to me that an argument could be made that they were an LA family when they had lived in NYC for almost the entire marriage. My best friend got married in Vermont; that doesn't mean they live there. The idea that Nicole could just up and take their kid across the country and Charlie couldn't have any say in that seemed wrong to me.

  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post
On ‎9‎/‎4‎/‎2019 at 10:25 PM, Brinny said:

I really want to see this, but wish Scarlett Johansson wasn't one of the leads. Wasn't there a tree she could have played instead?

So, I caved and watched it. 

Criticisms of Johansson's ignorant personal views aside, I still don't find her to be a compelling actor. Something about her always rings as inauthentic to me. I definitely echo everyone on here (and the rest of the interwebs), that Michelle Williams would have KILLED it in this role. I don't know if we were supposed to feel sympathy for Nicole (and this may be more of a comment on Baumbach's script/direction than on Johansson's acting choices, although I'm guessing there may be some blame to go around), but her portrayal seemed very one-note to me. She was angry, so she yelled. She was upset, so she cried. She was happy, so she laughed. I just felt she lacked dimension. 

By contrast, I really enjoyed Adam Driver's performance and found it to be very layered. Like, near the end when he's reading Nicole's list of what she likes about Charlie and he starts to tear up? On the surface there's definite sadness as he's struggling not to cry, but the emotions he presents are more complex than that: he seems mournful of his and Nicole's relationship, but also almost as if he's grateful and maybe even relieved to know that she really did love him once, except they both have these new lives where they're separate and apart and OHMYGOD, give him all the awards, because he's amazing. 

On ‎11‎/‎12‎/‎2019 at 6:31 AM, Simon Boccanegra said:

I look forward to the film generally, but one draw for me is that Randy Newman is scoring something other than an animated film. It's been a long time. Not that I have anything against animated films, and some of his work for the Pixar movies is very nice, but he used to mix it up more. His scores for RagtimeThe Natural, and Pleasantville were so beautiful, and the one for Avalon (Barry Levinson's movie about 50 years of his family in Baltimore) is one of my favorite movie scores of all time.

The advance word is that Marriage Story has another of his best.  

I completely forgot about reading that Randy Newman did the score and literally the entire movie thinking about how much I liked the music throughout. Which is saying something since, while I do very occasionally enjoy Mr. Newman, my brain refuses to believe his music is anything other than that bit from Family Guy. 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
2 minutes ago, Empress1 said:

Driver is facing controversy over walking out of a Fresh Air interview when he was shown the clip of him singing in this movie. Apparently he really loathes watching himself and has described it as a "phobia," and responded accordingly.

Except he was told about it before the interview and they told him they would give him prompts for him to remove his headphones and when to put them on (they were just audio). 

Share this post


Link to post

2 hours ago, Brinny said:

So, I caved and watched it. 

Criticisms of Johansson's ignorant personal views aside, I still don't find her to be a compelling actor. Something about her always rings as inauthentic to me. I definitely echo everyone on here (and the rest of the interwebs), that Michelle Williams would have KILLED it in this role. I don't know if we were supposed to feel sympathy for Nicole (and this may be more of a comment on Baumbach's script/direction than on Johansson's acting choices, although I'm guessing there may be some blame to go around), but her portrayal seemed very one-note to me. She was angry, so she yelled. She was upset, so she cried. She was happy, so she laughed. I just felt she lacked dimension. 

By contrast, I really enjoyed Adam Driver's performance and found it to be very layered. Like, near the end when he's reading Nicole's list of what she likes about Charlie and he starts to tear up? On the surface there's definite sadness as he's struggling not to cry, but the emotions he presents are more complex than that: he seems mournful of his and Nicole's relationship, but also almost as if he's grateful and maybe even relieved to know that she really did love him once, except they both have these new lives where they're separate and apart and OHMYGOD, give him all the awards, because he's amazing. 

I agree. Adam Driver’s performance was really interesting and complex. SJ bugged me, kind of the way she bugged me the first time she appeared in a Woody Allen film. 

Did I miss a scene in which Nicole shifts from explaining why she wants to divorce Charlie to instructing the lawyer to destroy him? It really seemed amicable until the lawyer stepped in. 

Share this post


Link to post

 I don't know if we were supposed to feel more sympathetic towards Adam Driver's character or if it is because SJ bugs me, but I kept thinking this would have been better with another actress besides SJ. But the rest of the cast was great. Nice to see Alan Alda, I noticed a few times he kept his hand under the desk and wondered if it was because he had a tremor. *edited to say I just read he does have Parkinson's disease.

Edited by Armchair Critic
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post

I enjoyed this movie overall, but found it a bit overlong.

I didn't mind ScarJo at all, and generally I'm not a fan, and as expected, Adam Driver was great. I liked that it showed the emotional turmoil of a family breakup, but the film had a much lighter tone than I expected, which allowed me to stick with it.

It was nice to see Julie Haggerty again (she looks great!), and Merit Weaver was fun in her small role as Scarjo's sister. Goodness, the L.A. house they lived in was lovely.

All of the lawyers were entertaining. I love Alan Alda, and it was nice to see him again too.  I understand the buzz about Laura Dern, but basically she was just doing her Renata character from Big Little Lies. Ray Liotta is perfect as a sharkey attorney. I think one of the points of the film is that lawyers make everything awful, and are the only ones who really win.

  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post
4 hours ago, Cheezwiz said:

I understand the buzz about Laura Dern, but basically she was just doing her Renata character from Big Little Lies.

Thank you!!! That’s what I saw, too. So I actually don’t understand the buzz....

  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post

I loved it, and thought it was subtle, nuanced, balanced, and very compelling.

I thought both Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver were superb, as was the entire supporting cast. I loved the use of the "What I love..." lists to open and close the film, and seeing how deeply Nicole's affected Charlie was beautiful and had me in real tears. I also loved Laura Dern's brilliant, sharp-as-knives lawyer, Alan Alda's sweet loser, and Liotta's bulldog.

I always love seeing Merritt Wever, and she was hilarious in the 'serving the papers' scene, and Julie Hagerty was very funny but also terrifying as Nicole's Mom (she wakes everyone up EVERY SINGLE DAY at 6:30 a.m., even on vacation, while singing to them about living their best day? AGHGHG). The added touch of her sort of crushing on Charlie (and on Merritt's ex-boyfriend, evidently) and basically trying to climb Adam Driver like a tree was so awkward but also very real.

I'm hit or miss on Baumbach. I think he can sometimes be warm and wryly observant (the wonderful, unappreciated "Kicking and Screaming") or on the other hand too cerebral and cold (which was why, while I admired "The Squid and the Whale," I also loathed it and will absolutely never watch that miserable piece of sewage again). But I definitely think this is the best thing he's ever done -- there's a relaxation to it that's new to me from him -- it feels soft and human. It's real, and painful, but rarely cruel.

I thought the story was very balanced, as I felt for both Charlie and Nicole at different times. I did feel that the situation was sadder for Charlie. The feminist in me felt for Nicole, and I believed that she had truly been taken for granted and overlooked by Charlie, even if he had done so without malice. It was interesting to realize the ways Charlie had unthinkingly used Nicole and her celebrity and talent, and spent them because his focus was so unceasingly on what he wanted to accomplish. The movie made it easy to see how to Charlie, all his work was theirs, and hers too. But this benefited him more than her, and he didn't see what he had taken away from Nicole as a result. Or how she spent years waiting for her moment, her turn. Which she deserved.

So the dynamics were so different, and truly heartbreaking. Because Nicole finally snapped, and all that rage and disappointment just kind of came seeping out, utterly broadsiding Charlie, who had no idea it existed at all.

I was blindsided with emotion several times in little, poignant moments: Nicole and Charlie pushing the gate closed, both stricken as it closes and they are on opposite sides. Nicole weeping after Charlie coldly tells her he doesn't like her new haircolor, and later, trying to hold onto her anger but still cutting Charlie's hair out of love and habit. The shattering moment when Charlie burst into tears and then fell at Nicole's feet. Charlie's wistful, quiet "Being Alive" (and thank you to Driver for undersinging it, which is the opposite impulse for most performers). And most of all, Charlie's face reading Nicole's "I love" list... and realizing what he had lost. All capped off by the sweetness of the final "family hug" in the street, and Nicole carefully tying Charlie's shoelace. Just a lovely, gentle film.

For me, what's most tragic about this story is that I didn't think this was a marriage that was doomed, and honestly I felt there was enough love there that this could have been worked out with a good marriage counselor (this interesting piece in The Atlantic takes a similar tack). 

The things I didn't like were fairly minor. Apologies for saying this, but I thought the kid was an entitled little ass most of the time. His parents were killing themselves to keep him happy, and he seemed to take actual enjoyment in screwing them over (the "do the knife thing Dad!" in front of the visiting evaluator had me livid). I empathized with what he was going through, and I'm embarrassed that I felt this way but... yeah. I really really disliked their son. I'm probably pure evil. And I admit I'm not a parent, although I semi-raised two nieces.

Lastly, I got a kick out of how pro-Los Angeles everyone was, since I would move back to NYC in a heartbeat if I could afford it, while LA remains the single ugliest city I have ever seen in my life. All that concret. It's only pretty when you see it from far away (or from the beach).

On 11/12/2019 at 4:31 AM, Simon Boccanegra said:

I look forward to the film generally, but one draw for me is that Randy Newman is scoring something other than an animated film. His scores for RagtimeThe Natural, and Pleasantville were so beautiful, and the one for Avalon (Barry Levinson's movie about 50 years of his family in Baltimore) is one of my favorite movie scores of all time.

The advance word is that Marriage Story has another of his best.  

The score by Newman was absolutely gorgeous (and the ones you mention are some of my favorites -- especially "The Natural," "Avalon" and "Ragtime"). I especially loved that the score here was so intimate -- it felt mostly like string quartets and octets, and I liked that he didn't default to gentle piano the way he often does the past few decades.

On 11/22/2019 at 7:25 AM, GussieK said:

It’s very good. I saw a screening in NYC two weeks ago where Baumbach even showed up for the intro. This is to thank Netflix for saving the theater in which we saw the film. I liked ScarJo even. 

Poor Scarlett Johansson. I had no idea she was so loathed until I visited this topic. I know she can sometimes be tone-deaf and frustrating when giving her opinion on things like gender, casting, etc., but I've always thought she was a superb actress ever since "Lost in Translation" (and certainly far better than the Marvel Universe deserved as Natasha). 

On 12/7/2019 at 4:16 AM, QQQQ said:

Beautiful, moving. And my heart is pretty cold, so... It reminded me of Kramer v. Kramer, so much so that I searched to see if others thought so too. Yep.

Marriage Story Like Kramer v. Kramer

Didn't know director was once married to Jennifer Jason Leigh. This article talks about parallels between JJL and movie character (Nicole).

Marriage Story Isn't Your Parents' Divorce Movie

This didn't remind me much of "Kramer vs Kramer," beyond "divorce storyline." Not least because the setup wasn't so artificially toxic -- we've at least come far enough that Nicole (unlike Joanna) wasn't set up as the automatic villain, but simply wanted to co-parent their little boy when she ended the marriage. I also disliked (even at the time) the "Kramer vs. Kramer" idea that the dad was a hero simply for learning how to properly parent his child (to the extent that simply feeding the kid breakfast was an exercise in comedy relief). 

I think "Kramer vs. Kramer" is a great movie, and ends on a beautiful note. But I'm probably always going to be irrevocably affected by the revelations about Dustin Hoffman's absolutely horrifying behavior during filming.

On 12/8/2019 at 4:12 PM, Simon Boccanegra said:

However, I do get the buzz for her in Marriage Story, beyond the fondness/esteem factor and the scene you mention. It's a nicely shaded characterization. When Nora first appears, it's almost as though Nicole is seeing a therapist, and then in the negotiations, we see (not that we're surprised) what a pit bull is behind it.  

My favorite part with Dern is that we see what an actress Nora is (and how much anger she is carrying with her, and that she uses in fueling other divorces. Her insisting on that final 5% on visitation, even when Nicole didn't want it, said so much about her. I disliked Nora but found her fascinating because everything about her seemed to be a role she was playing.

On 12/11/2019 at 5:23 PM, Spartan Girl said:

Found Nicole to be a bit passive aggressive at times. I agree with whoever said Michelle Williams could have easily replaced ScarJo. 

Much as I love Williams, for me, nobody could have played this part with what Scarlett Johansson brought to it, and I'm glad she's getting Oscar buzz for it. She was warm, tender, tough, and frequently devastating.

On 12/13/2019 at 2:01 PM, Jillibean said:

I totally agree. They were both right about some things and wrong about other things, and I don’t think either was really meant to be more in the right than the other. I do think that because Driver gave such an unbelievably strong performance, in some ways it feels easier to be sympathetic to him and see him as the victim of the situation when we factually know that isn’t really the case. Charlie’s genuine insistence that Nicole wouldn’t have purposely done things to give herself an advantage in the divorce proceedings was heartbreaking, but at the same time part of his confusion likely stemmed from the fact that Charlie was so used to everything being on his terms when it came to the marriage and their family. It was a nice metaphor that he was a director, and specifically her director, and that she didn’t get to direct until she started building a life without him. 

This is beautifully put, and exactly what I felt. I think it's all too easy to villainize Nicole because Charlie is so surprised and devastated by events that we don't see the slow, sad disillusion of her dreams, her life, and her self during that final year or two with Charlie.

On 12/15/2019 at 8:57 AM, Shannon L. said:

The scene that moved me the most was when he was dragging his kid around Los Angeles looking for a place to trick or treat.  I've lived here more than half my life and I know how daunting it can be.  You have to know the right neighborhoods to go to and if you don't know the area, good luck.  I could almost feel how sad and frustrated he must have been.

The fight scene were Adam broke down was tough to watch, but the one that almost killed me, in regards to how good his acting was, was the final scene where he was reading her list of why she loved him.  Quivering chin, choking back the tears......damn, that was fantastic. 

 I liked Joaquin's performance in The Joker, but have been obsessed with Taron in Rocket Man.  However,  I would say, after seeing this (but, having not seen a couple of the other movies where the lead actors are in contention), that if Adam won, I'd be absolutely fine with it .  It would be a well deserved win, imo.

All those broke me as well. And I am 100% okay if Driver took Best Actor this year.

On 12/17/2019 at 8:10 PM, biakbiak said:

Except he was told about it before the interview and they told him they would give him prompts for him to remove his headphones and when to put them on (they were just audio). 

More details are coming out about this and what it appears to be is a slightly more complex series of events:

  • Driver always sets not watching/listening to himself as an interview parameter.  It amounts almost to a phobia. He gets sick, nauseous, he feels chills, he has difficulty being in the room. He is far from the only actor to dislike witnessing his own performances.
  • The interview was set up and Driver's PR people asked for Fresh Air not to include him in playback. They agreed and evidently were to tell him when to remove headphones.
  • Gross evidently began playing his "Being Alive" moment without anyone giving him the cue to remove his headphones. This directly broke the protocol that had been set up.
  • Driver expressed unhappiness and he asked them to turn it off. They did not do so.
  • Instead, Gross asked him to talk about it (maybe hoping for a big dramatic moment)
  • Driver quietly got up and walked out. Gross and everyone else promptly acted shocked and hurt.

So -- just for clarity -- it wasn't an actor's temper tantrum. They were going for cheap drama -- they gambled and lost. I like Gross, but she's done this before with other interview subjects in the past.

Edited by paramitch · Reason: Forgot to add a note about NYC/LA
  • Like 12
  • Useful 2

Share this post


Link to post

Did anyone else find this really boilerplate? The dialogue just felt very...first draft. Charlie and Nicole went from a pretty standard argument, tit for tat, to him wishing she were dead. I don't understand how they got there other than the writer wanting them to get there.

Also despite their lawyers being sharks (other than Alan Alda) and basically cartoon characters they were very kind to each other when alone.   And the tone seemed to vary wildly scene to scene. Like when Nicole's sister is trying to "serve" Charlie (I'm not sure why she had to do it) it was meant to be funny but just looked stupid. It was bad sitcom-y.

I really loved the way it started, with them reading the letters they wrote about it each other, plus the music. It started out on the right foot. But then became predictable and kind of dumb. I don't understand why Nicole let her lawyer tear Charlie apart when that's not what she wanted or why he didn't list all of the awful things her lawyer was claiming she instructed her to do. 

Edited by JessePinkman · Reason: Because Alan Arkin and Alan Alda are two different people.
  • Like 7

Share this post


Link to post

2 hours ago, JessePinkman said:

Did anyone else find this really boilerplate? The dialogue just felt very...first draft. Charlie and Nicole went from a pretty standard argument, tit for tat, to him wishing she were dead. I don't understand how they got there other than the writer wanting them to get there.

Also despite their lawyers being sharks (other than Alan Arkin) and basically cartoon characters they were very kind to each other when alone.   And the tone seemed to vary wildly scene to scene. Like when Nicole's sister is trying to "serve" Charlie (I'm not sure why she had to do it) it was meant to be funny but just looked stupid. It was bad sitcom-y.

I really loved the way it started, with them reading the letters they wrote about it each other, plus the music. It started out on the right foot. But then became predictable and kind of dumb. I don't understand why Nicole let her lawyer tear Charlie apart when that's not what she wanted or why he didn't list all of the awful things her lawyer was claiming she instructed her to do. 

I agree completely with your post. 

Loved them listing what they loved about one another. Nicole recognized what a terrific father Charlie was. Then she pulls that d- - - move on Halloween. Plus, wasn’t she friends with everyone involved with the theatre, including the costume designer? That was a big “F you” to both Charlie and the costume designer.

Laura Dern was definitely a cartoon lawyer villain. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
14 hours ago, paramitch said:

I definitely think this is the best thing he's ever done -- there's a relaxation to it that's new to me from him -- it feels soft and human. It's real, and painful, but rarely cruel.

I feel the same way about Baumbach, he's very hit or miss for me, but there was a gentleness and lighter tone to this film that made it bearable (or dare I say, enjoyable) to watch even though it was about the dissolution of a marriage. For me, Baumbach's worst was "Margot at the Wedding" - super miserable story, and had no idea what it was even supposed to be about.

14 hours ago, paramitch said:

For me, what's most tragic about this story is that I didn't think this was a marriage that was doomed, and honestly I felt there was enough love there that this could have been worked out with a good marriage counselor

That was the feeling that I came away with as well - that it did not feel like a marriage that was beyond all hope. They had serious issues, but ones I think could have been worked out with counselling and negotiation. They hadn't descended to that lower plateau of total contempt for one another.

And, like others, I'm happy to see Randy Newman is still kicking around and had the opportunity to do create a score for something other than Pixar films. His score for "Ragtime" is one of the most beautiful things I've ever heard.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post

Consensus- it was a well done film. Both protagonists were flawed (but not morally bad) people (like most are). 

I think this family will be okay. Everyone does things they don’t want to do sometimes for the people they love (especially their child). 

The son was written way too young, unless they were playing it like he wanted to be babied for attention. He was supposed to be 8! Writers often have a bad job with children ages 6-12, writing for precocious preschoolers and teens is easy, elementary school aged children are either babied or treated like geniuses.

All that money spent on lawyers for the exact same result. 

I wasn’t emotionally moved but I liked the performances. 

He being a director and she an actress wasn’t lost on me.

 

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post

I loved this movie. There were no explosions and the characters were all recognizable. It harkened back to movies that used to be made.

The two lead actors did a beautiful job and I enjoyed the story a lot. My favorite movie of the year.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post

I really enjoyed this film and I thought that it was wonderfully acted by the two leads (especially Adam Driver, who I always liked in his Girls role, but never quite got how he suddenly became a leading man. This movie made me "get" him more). That said, I don't think that it ranks in my top few Baumbach films.

I wish that there had been a more organic way to bring the "list" back in the end rather than that clunky and cringe worthy scene that we got of the son conveniently finding it and reading it aloud. The thing with the knife was hilarious, but there should have been a better way to get something like that in instead of "Dad, do that thing with the knife." I also don't get the buzz about the Dern performance, but maybe it's because it seemed very similar to her BLL character. I couldn't shake my guilt for sympathizing more with Driver's character, knowing that he was a virtual stand in for Noah in real life, down to having sex with someone that the couple both had worked with (re: Gerwig, though in fairness this is just from publicized speculation as to the timeline of their relationship). And this is really nit-picky, but how much time is supposed to have passed in the film-was it really necessary that Nicole is seen getting a directing Emmy nomination for her show? That did not seem realistic.

Edited by BelleBrit
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post

I really liked the quiet, subtle moments in this movie. When he first arrived in LA and they gave each other a hug and kiss. And when he told her about the grant, she seemed genuinely happy for him. The hug at the end and her trying his shoe lace. Also when they were at mediation and he couldn't figure out what to order and then she ended up ordering for him. I also gasped when he accidentally cut himself and then had to chuckle at him going "I'm fine, it's fine" only to run to the kitchen as soon as that lady left to tend to his wound. 

I noticed Alan Alda's shacking hand and I thought "does he have Parkinson's?" I looked it up after watching the movie since I wasn't sure. My grandmothers hand shakes the same and she was just diagnosed.

  • Like 7

Share this post


Link to post

I enjoyed this, but I thought Scarlett was awful in it. I could see her ACTING. Either that, or she was playing a very "actressy" actress, which I still don't believe. Compare that with Adam Driver's work, he is just brilliant, frankly. I hope he gets an Oscar.

I don't have kids, but I really couldn't stand that kid. So obnoxious. I guess it was more realistic than having two parents fight over an adorable little moppet kid, you would fight for a kid even though he's a horrible kid!

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post

I thought I’d be more enamoured just by reading the reviews but I found it a bit underwhelming and very overacted in parts.
 

The fight scene where he punches the wall was unmoving because it felt like something right out of a play. Just really overacted. The emotions weren’t authentic to me and I didn’t feel the real, ugly rage that you get when having a fight with a spouse/partner coming from either of them. 

Ultimately Charlie had an affair so the dissolution of the marriage is on him. The fact he did it with someone they worked with speaks volumes about his consideration for Nicole’s feelings. I think Nicole would have left him eventually as she seemed to resent him for so much and he did seem deserving of a lot of the resentment. 

Not sure I get the awards buzz. Driver really made the character his own So I’m ok with that but I could feel ScarJo acting Through it all. Same with Dern although I feel her character was meant to be a bit actressy and over the top. 
 

I loved the mother though.

Edited by Chas411
  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...

Customize font-size