Tay’s review published on Letterboxd:
given how cold Frances Ha left me, and now how... ambivalent... i feel toward this, i think i am going to have to accept that maybe Baumbach just isn't a filmmaker for me!
i went into this with very few expectations, and still somehow i find myself inexplicably disappointed. the last thing, though, i'd thought i'd be saying is i was more impressed with Johansson than Driver—and yet, i am. at least the first half of the film, i think she commands every scene. Nicole's pain is raw, right there at the surface, a wound festering quietly for years, rotting from the inside out. there's one scene where she says goodnight to Charlie, in the same manner as she's surely done for a decade, only to turn down a hallway and break in the dark where no one can see her. that, to me, was the film's peak; unfortunately, it's quite early on, and it's a steady sizzling out from thereon.
i don't think Driver is bad, but i didn't find Charlie compelling in anyway. maybe i've hit my limit with artists who, instead of seeking out healthy coping mechanisms and support systems, sleep with other people, or shut out their partners, or worse yet, use their partner's pain for the sake of their art. it's been done both better and worse than here—i think the worst thing is knowing it will continue being done.
there are some lovely moments that are light, yes (in particular, Nicole's sister is so delightfully unlike anyone else in the film), and what a beautiful color palette. i was reminded not for the better of how i felt about Phantom Thread: Marriage Story is like a beautiful painting, a sad and very human painting, but i'd rather look at a painting for five minutes, and not for two hours. i'd boil the perfect painting down to that hallway scene with Nicole. everything else feels half-dry, half-baked, too muted and self-aggrandizing.
i'd rather watch Beginniners or 20th Century Women, which is to say, i'll take Mike Mills' tenderness over Baumbach's stiltedness any day