With Writer Director Noah Baumbach, dysfunction in individuals and families is usually the central theme of his films. More often than not, the films are a blend of Drama and Comedy with the script being rich, harsh, and nuanced.
The Marriage Story starring Scarlet Johansson and Adam Driver is about a married couple and a family we meet during the early-stages of breaking-up.
In the Marriage Story the couple and son as the main characters are less quirky and arcane than in Baumbach’s earlier offerings. In the Marriage Story the supporting characters are exceptionally dysfunctional and self-serving. They also fuel and exploit what dysfunction the couple and son possess.
What is clear in the Marriage Story is the couple care for each other. Two other things are clear. 1. Under certain conditions they could and should stay together – if only they can better understand what each other is saying and accommodate each others needs in the marriage. 2. There is no chance these people should stay together given where they are in their lives and who is influencing their decisions.
As with almost all of Baumbach’s works, there are scenes and sequences that are truly maddening and frustrating. Most of the male and female actors Baumbach casts thrive with the material and direction. Scarlet Johansson, Adam Driver, Julie Hagerty, Merritt Weaver, Laura Dern and Ray Liotta in the Marriage Story do as well.
Jeff’s thoughts and worthless trivia.
The Marriage Story is a tough watch. In this film, I walked away from it in the middle. I do not want to say why as it would give away key aspects of the story-line. I did return after considering that Baumbach’s films while hard to watch always provide insight and context. This insight and context has proven to be helpful long after the film’s end.
Merritt Weaver (as Jackie) has a small role in the Marriage Story. Weaver is superb in it. If you watch\rewatch the films Signs, Michael Clayton, Into The Wild, Righteous Kill, Tiny Furniture or Birdman, Merritt Weaver will appear in a supporting role and play the character wonderfully.