Marriage Story

Rated 5.0

Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson are incredible in writer/director Noah Baumbach’s best movie yet, an alternately searing, touching and hilarious look at a marriage’s end times. Nicole and Charlie Barber work in a theater company together, she the performer and he the director. The movie starts with them in counseling, going through a divorce where they promise each other things will remain amicable and lawyers won’t get involved. Nicole will go to Los Angeles and pursue film acting while Charlie stays in New York to facilitate his latest play making it to Broadway. They are determined to share custody of their young son. This will be a pleasant divorce. Then … the lawyers get involved, of course. Early in the film, it’s a wonder why these two are getting divorced. They’re both quiet about it, and, heck, you might even think there’s a chance they can pull out of the nosedive and make a happy landing. Nope. Just, nope. This director will not be trafficking in easy endings. Baumbach comes from a place that knows two people can really love each other, yet put themselves through a progressive, scorching hell to achieve separation. Nicole tries to remain civil, but Charlie has done stuff that’s going to result in things that will make the proceedings a little rougher than first thought. Nicole gets herself a lawyer in Nora (Laura Dern just being the best Laura Dern ever) and Charlie eventually caves and gets one too in Bert Spitz (a funny Alan Alda) and his eventual replacement Jay (an even funnier Ray Liotta). I’m going to go out on a limb here and say this movie contains the most realistic, earth-shattering, devastatingly honest marital fight I’ve ever seen in a movie. The participants in this scene simply had to have gotten medical assistance when it was all over. Driver and Johansson do things in this film you will not soon forget. (Streaming on Netflix.)