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Marriage Story

Updated: Feb 4, 2020

In UK cinemas November 2019

Director: Noah Baumbach

Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Adam Driver, Laura Dern, Ray Liotta

Country: USA 2019

Running time: 137mins

This universal story of a relationship breakdown in Marriage Story pitches Nicole (Scarlett Johansson), a former Hollywood TV actress against her acclaimed, off-Broadway director husband (Adam Driver). In doing so, Marriage Story juxtaposes L.A and New York, West and East coast, movies and stage (and not forgetting female and male) and the nuances of those worlds.

When Nicole returns to her family in LA with their eight-year old son, what begins as an amicable agreement to part soon deteriorates into a struggle for child custody and assets. Marriage Story shows how wretched separation becomes when the stakes, financial and emotional, are high.

The rivals are supported by cutthroat lawyers (Laura Hearn and Ray Liotta), who put up a good fight on behalf of their respective clients reminiscent of Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy in Adam’s Rib.

In shining the light on the movie industry and show business, Marriage Story smacks of professional incest (apparently the film draws directly from Noah Baumbach's experiences). The lead actors are the entire focus of the film, each with their equal share of lines, close-ups and scene time as if their agents have agreed a deal right down the middle to the point of both actors having a song to sing. At times it feels as if we are watching them “act” their slice of the pie. Having said that, the performances are so absorbing that when gloves are off, the tension is palpable.

(First Reviewed, London Film Festival October 2019)




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