What I learned from ‘Marriage Story’
By Jerrison Oracion, Senior Columnist
Netflix has changed their approach for releasing their original films. Now they release them in the movie theatres first before making them available on the streaming service. One could hope that with this move, Netflix is saying that they do not want to replace movie theatres and still want everyone to see films on the big screen because movies have a different impact viewed in such a context. Their new approach to movies has seemingly worked for their recent offerings of films, seeing how many got nominations in the Academy Awards this year. The list of nominated films includes Noah Baumbach’s recent film, Marriage Story.
This film, which is nominated for six Academy Awards including Best Picture, is Kramer vs, Kramer for a modern generation. It is like one of Baumbach’s previous films, The Squid and the Whale, except that it is based on his marriage with his previous wife rather than his childhood. It follows Charlie (Adam Driver) and Nicole (Scarlett Johansson) through the rockiness of their divorce—the downfall of the marriage, going through the legal process, and determining who will have custody of their son, Henry (Azhy Robertson).
Charlie is a theatre director that uses the revenue from his successful theatre company to sustain his family. Nicole is an actress that works in his productions and is a key part of their success. When Nicole moves back to Los Angeles with Henry, their case gets more interesting. The film shows the struggle Charlie and Nicole have while trying to decide if they should go through the divorce process or just try to resolve the situation themselves.
The film shows that marriage law is very vague and, as in Charlie and Nicole’s case, going through such complications can cause couples to want to give up on the process entirely. Their trial was supposed to happen in New York City since they lived there most of the time and when they negotiated the details of their trial, their lawyers explained legal terms and made revelations which made their situation even worse.
Additional impressive performances come from Nicole’s lawyer, Nora Fanshaw, who is played by Golden Globe winner and possibly Academy Award winner Laura Dern. She takes care of her clients, sends crafted documents, and even flirts with other lawyers wearing risqué clothes. Charlie’s lawyers included Jay Marotta (Ray Liotta) who told him to lie about his story and Bert Spitz (Alan Alda) who was very generous and looked promising to Charlie.
Both Charlie and Nicole had a lot of opportunities to resolve their situation and if they had taken one of them, they would still be married. When I was watching the film, I was trying to figure out who to feel bad for. I was going to feel bad for Charlie but after watching it, I did not feel bad for any of them. Most of Baumbach’s films are filmed in New York City, which is why this film highlights the debate between New York values and Los Angeles values.
There is a scene where we see Charlie eating pizza like a sandwich, and when I saw the film, I had pizza and ate it like that. Divorce is a lot of work and Marriage Story is an example that you should try to resolve your situation outside of court. Marriage Story is available now on Netflix.