Not really a later-day Kramer Vs Kramer in its shaded examination of a union, in a way, coming to an end, is this latest sharply observed, very personal drama from Noah Baumbach.
His Marriage Story which may sound like a misnomer bristles with honesty, wistfulness, and even humanity as an early montage depicts what makes two spouses adore one another .
The characters, especially the leads, in Adam Driver’s Charlie and Scarlett Johnsson’s Nicole, are quite absorbing as well as their exchanges which range from appeasing to ire.
This married Brooklyn couple have been together for a decade and have an energetic 8-year-old son Henry (Azhy Robertson). But a relational partition has developed with Charlie engrossed with being a theater director. Nicole, an actress who (likely has been modeled after Baumbach’s ex Jennifer Jason Leigh) has been Charlie’s muse in living her Los Angeles habitat to work with him now begins to have second thoughts.
Baumbach’s well designed screenplay begins-to really take hold when Nicole opts to seize an opportunity for a pilot for television series taking her back to the West coast. She’ll group with supportive mother (Julie Hagerty) and sister Cassie (Merritt Wever) as she retains a ravenous celebrity legalese in Nora (a no-nonsense Laura Dern).
The cross-country split is regularly mentioned as scenes take unforeseen turns with pungent, often profane conversation that feels of the moment. A bracing candor rarely lets up as unpleasantry mounts, especially as the legal teams make their presence known, often over-tapping their clients’ words. It just couldn’t be a cordial dissolution as Johanson (JoJo Rabbit) does her utmost for her son, rage and fear, however, can spew at a moment. And she mines these underpinnings with a certain sensible suppression.
The busy and ubiquitous Drover (Blackklansman) will soon be reprising his Kylo Ren in The Rise of Skywalker arguably has the more knotty role.
A circular and iterative means of thoughtful-noticeable traversing instances also has noticeable emotional effect and finally a peek of what is to come lets a thoughtful exploration reach its conclusion. In addition to Dern, Ray Liotta and Alan Alda are effective in briefer turns as Charlie’s disparate counselors, the sick Jay and the more free and easy Bert (having a carnal analogy to severance) in prodding their client to do what is necessary to besmirch Nicole and gain custody of Henry.
Baumbach’s exploration may be too devastating for some who’ve gone through it, if a balance is in the offing as the trauma and grief slowly wane. Driver and Johansson expressing more than pain and resentment as Marriage can be an oddly raw, dispiriting, even droll story, juggling its elements in a most memorable way.