Marriage Story and Believing In Reality

“Marriage Story” recently received considerable buzz after being nominated for 6 Academy Awards. 6 nominations is a tremendous feat for any film, much less one that was solely released on streaming platforms. 

I was just as skeptical as anyone else: how could a film released on Netflix be as special as critics insisted? So, I watched the film to find out for myself and it has become one of my favorite movies released in 2019, or ever.

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“Marriage Story” follows a couple as they file for divorce and fight for custody of their young son. I don’t know how a film about divorce made me believe so much in love, but it did. When divorce is portrayed through any form of media, there’s always an emphasis on anger and resentment. What writer/director Noah Baumbach realized is that the anger and resentment are only a part of the story.

Baumbach highlights the love from the marriage before, the love the couple still shares, despite everything, and more importantly, the love the couple shares for their son. The marriage wasn’t able to work out, which is painful to watch. What was more painful was seeing the couple forget what made them get married in the first place.

Baumbach showed the love from the very first minute. It’s hard to explain exactly why the way he shows love is unique to any other movie I’ve seen without you having seen the movie. The best way I can think to explain it is that I could imagine the couple from the movie existing in real life. Other movies have developed characters and developed worlds and talented actors. What those movies miss is showing a truly realistic love story.

The love story from “Marriage Story” is one we’ve all seen, either directly or indirectly, though I think few of us understood that love doesn’t necessarily go away with divorce. As I watched these characters fight for their son and to separate their lives from each other, I felt the loss of a shared life at the same time I felt hope that true love exists—sometimes, just not forever.

There is a certain intimacy to peeling back the curtains on such a private, painful time in a family’s lives. Every scene felt all the more important for that. It was like Baumbach was doing the audience a favor by letting us see what was actually happening for these people. And every scene mattered.

Too often, I go to the movie theater feeling like I wasted my time on a movie that didn’t know how to contain the length of the story. When this movie ended, I couldn’t believe 2 hours had passed. I couldn’t believe that I felt I had gone through so much and grown up so much after only 2 hours. The writing and directing certainly contributed to this sense of awe I felt while watching the credits (I was too numb to close my laptop), however I would be remiss to end this review without discussing the acting.

Scarlett Johansson, Adam Driver, and Laura Dern are all celebrities I adore. On my laptop screen, they transformed into new people. Another misconception I had before watching this movie was that good acting can only be judged individually. With “Marriage Story,” I argue there’s no doubt the acting was excellent.

These celebrities became the people they portrayed. They were so committed to their roles that I forgot about Black Widow, Kylo Ren, and Ellie Sattler. I forgot 3 of Hollywood’s most iconic characters because the actors behind them were able to transform themselves into new people before my very eyes.

In short, I adore “Marriage Story.” I assume you could already tell by how I spent this whole review gushing. This is the kind of movie you should not be on the fence about watching. I couldn’t find a single thing to criticize. It’s that good. Yes, it’s sad. Yes, it’s beautiful. Yes, you should watch it right now.