This is an unnerving film that proves that an unsatisfying marriage is preferable to a callus divorce. Regardless, I remain stunned that it leads the Golden Globes with six nominations.
In my prior review of the Netflix film The Irishman, I noted that the tremendous acting of various recognized legendary figures exceeded the quality of the plot. Quite frankly, that same analysis applies to Netflix’s other film, Marriage Story.
In brief form, Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson play a married couple who have decided to pursue a divorce. He is a Broadway director and screen writer living in New York and she has moved with their young son to California to pursue an acting career in films. Both actors give passionate performances as a married couple who initially seek a divorce where attorneys won’t be necessary only to find out that the devil works in the details.
Despite the fact that director Noah Baumbach has given us a film where a smart couple clearly still care for each other, the fact that they now live in different states forces both to seek the advice of counsel. The role of lawyers in this film reminded me of why I took a blood oath to never handle another divorce case after handling three of them shortly after I obtained my legal license. Though I know some lawyers who would view the role of a criminal defense lawyer in the same fashion, I never again wanted to experience an emotional legal battle over who gets possession of the family toaster.
In any event, Laura Dern gives an Oscar-worthy performance as Ms. Johansson’s California lawyer. She is as smart as she is arrogant, and she turns a divorce preceding into the functional equivalent of trying to work out a nuclear agreement with North Korea.
As for Mr. Driver, he initially decides to be represented by an aging counsel played by Alan Alda, an experienced attorney who appears to be only hampered by the onset of Alzheimer’s. In the process, Driver chooses an extremely expensive legal advocate played by Ray Liotta, whose arrogance in and out of Court make him a profoundly hateful human being.
Finally, the movie’s strength is hurt by its length where various well-acted scenes become sadly tedious. As a result, you are left as relieved by its eventual conclusion as our husband and wife who find a way to renew their respect for each other as the marriage finally concludes.