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The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

“Marriage Story” tells love through divorce

Photo courtesy Heyday Films/Netflix. Charlie Barber (Adam Driver) and Nicole Barber (Scarlett Johansson) guide the audience along the journey of the inevitable end of their relationship.
Photo courtesy Heyday Films/Netflix. Charlie Barber (Adam Driver) and Nicole Barber (Scarlett Johansson) guide the audience along the journey of the inevitable end of their relationship.
January 22, 2020 | Dang Le | managing editor
Photo courtesy Heyday Films/Netflix. Charlie Barber (Adam Driver) and Nicole Barber (Scarlett Johansson) guide the audience along the journey of the inevitable end of their relationship.
Photo courtesy Heyday Films/Netflix. Charlie Barber (Adam Driver) and Nicole Barber (Scarlett Johansson) guide the audience along the journey of the inevitable end of their relationship.

Writer and producer Noah Baumbach delivers a heartfelt, honest and haunting movie titled “Marriage Story,” which follows Charlie, played by Adam Driver and Nicole played by Scarlett Johansson through their New York-to-Los Angeles divorce process.

The Netflix movie starts with the couple seeing a mediator who advises them to write and read aloud the nicest things about their partner. While Charlie has no problem with doing so, Nicole declines, which ends their counseling.

During this time, Nicole moves to Los Angeles for her newly-offered role, and Charlie stays in New York. When talking to her co-worker, Nicole is advised to contact family lawyer Nora portrayed by Laura Dern, thus initiating the legal battle.

It’s not a new plot, as Woody Allen has done coast-to-coast divorce stories for years. But with “Marriage Story,” Driver’s and Johansson’s performances elevate the story to a new high.

Before premiering on Netflix, the movie has received widespread critical acclaim ever since its first showing at the Toronto International Film Festival, where it earned runner-up for People’s Choice Awards. Some call the film overhyped, but it’s truly an exquisite effort from the score, screenplay, directing and acting. 

The movie isn’t filled with details. Just like real life, everything takes time, and it takes moments for emotions to build. “Marriage Story” is one of those movies that manages to blur the line between film and real life.

At times, the tension is almost too real, and viewers may even question whether they’re intruding on this couple’s privacy during their most challenging times ever, an example would be what Charlie said during a heated confrontation. 

“Every day, I wake up, and I hope you’re dead. […] I’d hope you get an illness, and then get hit by a car and die.”

Why was it so hard for a couple to say beautiful things to each other at the beginning, but they are so eager to come up with the meanest words despite having no ill-intentions?

Humans tend to believe break-up means failure. And that may be right, but it may also be one’s life chapter is ready to close. Immortal doesn’t necessarily bring contentment, and living together happily ever after doesn’t guarantee happiness. That’s the main message the audience can understand by going through Charlie and Nicole Barber’s journey.

With “Marriage Story,” there was no protagonist or antagonist. It’s merely storytelling. Nobody was perfect, and that makes the movie relatable. Somewhere in these characters, viewers may find themselves and be able to heal from this process.

It is not just a story of finding one’s self. It’s a journey to redefine what one has lost. And regardless of the harsh circumstances, these characters have to do it for themselves.

Although Baumbach is known to produce movies where characters struggle to find their identity, he has accomplished a new level of intimacy in storytelling with this project. 

It’s evident that Johansson’s acting skill has tremendously improved from this movie, but Adam Driver has given a performance of a lifetime. Then again, every actor in this movie has given award-worthy efforts, one brightening example would be Dern whose monologue is a highlight of the film. 

At 116 minutes, the movie ends with lots of theories: what if Nicole reads the letter in the beginning? Will they break up? Will things go the way it was?

But if they don’t break up, would Charlie ever start valuing his family and Nicole ever get the chance to showcase her talent?

Sometimes, saying goodbye is the best option for both people. Love doesn’t always mean staying together forever but giving the other rooms to grow, just like what Nicole said. “And I’ll never stop loving him, even though it doesn’t make sense anymore.”

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