Marriage Story is One of 2019’s Best Films

Alexis Yang, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Noah Baumbach’s film Marriage Story is being heralded as one of 2019’s finest films. On December 9, it was nominated for six Golden Globe awards: Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama, Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama, Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in any Motion Picture, Best Screenplay – Motion Picture, and Best Original Score – Motion Picture. On January 5, 2020, the film took home an award at the Golden Globes: Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in any Motion Picture, for Laura Dern. Film listings from Mashable, Variety, The Atlantic, Vulture, and more rank the film as one of this year’s best. It’s received a stunning 96% on Rotten Tomatoes, with the Critics Consensus stating the following: “Observing a splintering union with compassion and expansive grace, the powerfully acted Marriage Story ranks among writer-director Noah Baumbach’s best works.”

After hearing about all the hype, I decided to watch the film. Marriage Story gives a heart-wrenching and realistic account of a marriage falling apart, as Charlie and Nicole Barber (Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson, respectively) struggle to keep their family afloat through the divorce process.

The film is filled with powerful, emotional performances by both Driver and Johansson, with the actors owning the screen whenever they appear. Their acting is always genuine and realistic, preventing the intensely emotional scenes from becoming melodramatic or fabricated. The other performances are equally realistic and distinctive; from Nicole’s quirky mother (Julie Hagerty), to Nicole’s insincere and cutthroat lawyer (Laura Dern), to Charlie’s well-intentioned yet ineffective lawyer (Alan Alda), the actors’ performances accurately depict people at their best and worst.

Baumbach’s directing carries the same realism as the actors’ performances. His choices convey the thoughts of both Driver and Johansson’s characters equally, allowing the viewer to understand both perspectives. Baumbach imbues symbolism in his film without it being overbearing or fabricated; his world is truly realistic. One touching, well-directed scene is when Charlie helps Nicole close her front gate, their son sleeping over his shoulder, the gate closing them off from each other. The gate is a symbolic representation of their separation in divorce, lifestyles, and futures.

I believe that Marriage Story is fully deserving of its nominations and award at the Golden Globes. If you would like to see a realistic film with stunning performances that will stay with you, watch Marriage Story, which is available to stream on Netflix.