Harland Banks’s review published on Letterboxd:
Plot- A stage director and his actor wife struggle through a gruelling, coast-to-coast divorce that pushes them to their personal and creative extremes.
Wow. I mean what else can I really say about this film. I'm still trying to deconstruct what I just watched. Marriage Story doesn't really feel like a movie, it's so real and raw that it feels more like you are actually experiencing everything that's happening in the film. The film is extremely realistic to the point where you almost can't make that separation between the film and reality like I knew I was watching a movie yet at the same time I felt like everything was really happening. Personally, I love films like this, you know, films that can blur that line between fiction and reality and this film does exactly that.
The writing in this film was definitely what impressed me the most. The film is just structured beautifully and it flows incredibly well. All the relationships and characters in this film feel genuine and real and a lot of that has to do with the incredible writing. Noah Baumbach understands exactly what kind of movie he wants to make and what story he wants to tell and he nails it perfectly. This movie also has some of the best dialogue you'll ever hear in a film, it's truly realistic and complements the film perfectly. A movie like this is just so hard to pull off because these situations are complex yet so common and being able to cover as many topics relating to this situation as this film did was definitely very important.
The fact that I can watch this movie and see myself in the different situations not only as a kid experiencing my parents different relationships but I can even see a connection between this film and my relationship and that's what makes this film so real I mean hell I've heard some of this shit said and I've even found myself saying some of the stuff being said. To me being able to pull off a film so personal and surreal yet have it be something so many people can connect with is just amazing. I most definitely expect many oscar noms coming this films way, especially for both screenplay and directing.
Another aspect of this film that was just spectacular in every way was that incredible cast. Every single person in this cast was just phenomenal but that especially goes for Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson that have some of the greatest on-screen chemistry you'll ever witness. The scene in Charlie's apartment where they get into that huge argument is not only easily the best-acted scene in cinema this year but it may have been the most emotional, saddening, riveting and captivating scene of the last few years. You can truly feel and hear the anger, disappointment and sadness in both of their voices and it really connected with me on a personal level.
It also just made me feel sad for everyone involved but also made me super uncomfortable to watch. The performances are so stellar and real that you really feel uncomfortable watching everything and not because of how awkward the setting is but because of how raw and real it feels. It would truly be a disservice to this film and fans of cinema to not at least nominate both lead performers for an oscar next year. I think they both went beyond many people's expectations and arguably delivered the two performances all year.
I also think that this film was shot really really well. There is definitely some gorgeous style and techniques within this camera work that made this film beautiful to look at. The atmosphere and setting are both devastating yet beautiful and just really adds a very appealing aspect visually that I honestly wouldn't even expect from a film like this. I mean from a story perspective it feels more like a novel yet it has some of the best sound quality and visual quality delivered to us this year even with that indie vibe and atmosphere.
I'm really happy that this film was told through the perspective of two characters instead of just one, I really think that decision is what made this film so remarkable. Like the biggest issue, most films about relationships have is that they are normally told through the point of view of one person set in one time period which just creates a messy, tone-deaf film that is hard to understand because you don't get the full picture. Luckily this film gives you the whole story through two points of views and though it does focus on current time and issues in the film it also does an amazing job at giving us a broader look at the entire relationship between the two main characters including happy and loving moments as well as toxic and hateful moments.
This film is masterfully crafted and structured, the toning is great, it deals with real themes and manages them perfectly without overwhelming the audience. Marriage Story is a movie that will make you feel and truly experience many different conflicting thoughts, opinions and emotions. The film will make you feel joyful and have you laughing at the adorable loving moments and some genuinely well written and witty comedy but it can also turn those laughs into tears with the incredible devesting and heart-wrenching moments. This movie is truly an emotional rollercoaster but it's perfect and it makes you feel everything a film should make you feel.
I mean this movie really made me feel an emotional connection with this story and characters from the get-go, hell they managed to warm my heart in the first five minutes of the film with the beautiful opening love letters just to crush it into pieces with the next five-minute scene that followed it, hell that scene made me flat out start tearing up and I hadn't even got to the serious problems and the way more emotionally intense scenes. This is one of the few films that had me locked in from the first minute and never lost me despite the crazy emotional rollercoaster I experienced watching this film, that's just how truly captivating and gravitational this film was.
I can't think of a single issue I had with this movie, not even a tiny mynute flaw that could make me think this film isn't a modern classic masterpiece of cinema. Everything about it was truly spectacular. I could continue talking about this film forever but instead, I'm gonna end this review, go and watch it for a second time and then write another review covering everything I couldn't in this. So until then do me and yourself a favour if you haven't seen this film and watch it immediately because the hype is real and Marriage Story is truly that good!