By Julia Duggan
“Marriage Story” is emotional, dramatic and full of heartwarming moments. The movie is a great one to watch if you need a cry. It was released in 2019 and is starring Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson.
The plot is relatively simple, with a heavy emphasis on the acting. A married couple is planning to get a divorce. The proceedings, however, quickly grow messy as the couple has a son and each parent wants equal visitation. Both parents work at a theatre company in New York that is directed by Charlie (Driver). The lead actress at that company, Nichole (Johansson), is leaving to star in a television show in California. Although both agreed to prevent lawyers from getting involved, Nichole gets a lawyer while out in California and things get more complicated.
Despite the plot being about a divorce, it’s also a love story. I couldn’t help but bounce between cheering for either the husband or wife and hating the other. Both have such strong bonds and love for their son despite the many immoral things they have done in recent months. Both Driver and Johansson gave impressive performances throughout.
This movie must have been taxing for all actors and actresses involved. It is hard to find the words to explain all the raw emotional vulnerability that both Johansson and Driver must produce for several scenes, and in a way that is different every time. Even at the very beginning of the movie, one gets a hint that both Charlie and Nichole still have some feelings for each other but it is not enough to make the marriage work. The only way to understand how demanding and jaw-dropping the performances are is to watch the movie.
The movie begins with Charlie and Nichole sitting with a couples therapist. Both were assigned to write what they liked about the other and then had to share it in the session. Nichole refused to read hers partly because she admits that she still loves Charlie. The actors had to convey this complex relationship where both parties still love each other, but not to the extent where they can both live happily together.
I struggle to picture a face that conveys this complex emotion. Eventually the letter returns to the forefront when the son, Henry, finds the letter and tries to read it. Charlie sees this, and sits down and helps him read it. Once he realizes what this is, he is overcome with emotion. The viewers see him fight the urge to cry when they get to the line where Nichole admits that she still loves Charlie. In this two minute scene, the readers see Charlie go from curious, to a loving father, to intrigued, to surprised, to loving, to sorrow and maybe to regret. It is a little hard to tell what emotion Charlie is feeling in this moment because he is trying really hard not to cry in front of Henry.
I could not tear my eyes away from the screen the entire time I was watching this movie. Every emotion, every problem, every tender moment had me guessing the outcome until the very end.
My mind was engaged the entire time, trying to figure out what the best solution would be as the lawyers scream and debate each other. I would highly recommend this movie and everyone should have a box of tissues on standby.