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Why Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story is a Must See

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Rutgers chapter.

While 2019 produced cinematic gems like Parasite and 1917, one film that I rave about to anyone looking for a good movie recommendation is Marriage Story. It is just so beautifully raw and filled with emotion that it is painful to watch in the best way. Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson and Laura Dern deliver powerful performances while director/writer Noah Baumbach choreographs the film flawlessly. From the writing itself, to the camera work and the talent of the actors, this film is definitely a must see

The film Marriage Story highlights love between a couple, Charlie and Nicole, through the lens of their divorce. Watching the entire process unravel from happiness, to fighting, therapy, court, and finally divorce itself, makes it interesting to see how and why their love falls apart. The movie begins with monologues from each character expressing everything that they love about their partner; it is a brief moment that showcases all of the good things about their marriage and demonstrates why they fell in love in the first place. From this point on the movie swiftly segues into showing what it is like falling out of this once great love and the detrimental effects that it has on both them and the people around them. The progression of the couple’s story is something so intimate and real, and the fact that it is being told through the angle of divorce makes it all the more beautiful.

While it can often be easy to pick sides in films, Marriage Story keeps the audience impartial. There are moments where the movie showcases some of Charlie’s flaws, and then right when the audience is “rooting” for Nicole, some of her flaws are revealed as well. I think that the impartiality aspect of the film allows the audience to see the story as a whole instead of just rooting for their favorite character. It is important that the audience truly understands that Charlie and Nicole’s downfall isn’t just the fault of one partner; both of them have their own vices that deserve to be exploited. 

The cast is such an integral part of any film and this one was phenomenal. Adam Driver as Charlie, Scarlet Johansson as Nicole, and Laura Dern as Nora, Nicole’s feisty attorney, each one of their individual performances sends so many emotions directly into the hearts of viewers. In particular, there is one scene that I really think demonstrates the pure talent that Driver and Johansson possess. Nicole goes over to Charlie’s house seeking to work out the mess that they have created, yet it turns into a screaming match full of tears and hateful sentiments. They break into their biggest fight ever, and the natural and heartbreaking way that both Driver and Johansson deliver their lines and show raw emotion puts a pit into the viewers’ stomachs. Their acting is just so authentic to how couples going through divorce fight and their on screen energy fits together perfectly with each other.

A quote from the fight scene that really stuck with me is when Charlie tells Nicole, “Every day I wake up and I hope you’re dead! Dead, like if I could guarantee Henry would be okay, I’d hope you’d get an illness, and then get hit by a car and die!” He proceeds to sink to the ground crying, instantly regretting what he just said, and clings onto Nicole’s legs. I think that this quote itself is a testament to the genius that Noah Baumbach had created while writing this film. The line alone is so powerful and demonstrates the hurtful, yet meaningless, things people say to a partner while fighting. It represents the vulnerability of someone who is suffering, and how desperately they want to just be out of this situation; all of the pain that the couple has endured during this divorce process comes out in this scene, and the audience can particularly see Charlie’s breaking point. It is realistically brutal writing like this that makes the movie so stimulating.

The representation of the nitty gritty process that is divorce is another great aspect of the film. In the beginning Charlie and Nicole want to keep things drama free and civil, yet once Nicole gets charmed by divorce attorney Nora, things get dirty. What was supposed to be a tranquil divorce turns into an attorney battle overnight, and watching how the situation gets so blown out of proportion is truly frustrating. This movie is really great at evoking emotions in the audience, as well as demonstrating real life situations that occur during the stages of divorce. 

Watching this film hurts so good. It will make viewers laugh, cry, smile, and get angry, but it will not disappoint. It does a great job at digging right into the souls of the audience and hitting a place where everyone is vulnerable. Everything about this movie from the plot, to the writing and directing, to the acting, deserves to be praised for its raw beauty.

Tori is a current freshman at Rutgers University from Middletown, New Jersey. She is pursuing a major in Marketing and loves to watch Netflix, write, travel, and be outside.
Cassidy hails from Delaware County, Pennsylvania and is an undergraduate Journalism and Media Studies major and Psychology minor at Rutgers University with a passion for telling stories. She is the current Co-Campus Correspondent for Her Campus Rutgers.