‘Marriage Story’: A raw portrayal of divorce

In our society, where divorce is common, “Marriage Story” — produced by Netflix — delivers a raw portrayal of divorce and its effects on a family, bringing the pain to life. “Marriage Story” is a comedy-drama that follows the divorce between a couple who try to prevent their careers from breaking their family apart.

Charlie Barber (Adam Driver) is a successful theater director in New York City, and Nicole Barber (Scarlett Johansson) is an actress in Charlie’s theater. Nicole was an aspiring actress in Los Angeles but gave up her career for her relationship with Charlie. As the couple happily settles in New York City, they complete their family portrait with the arrival of their only son, Henry Barber (Azhy Robertson). 

Their marital conflict begins years later when Nicole takes a job offer for a lead role in a television show in Los Angeles. She decides to temporarily move in with her mother, Sandra (Julie Hagerty), bringing Henry with her.

After moving, marital conflicts begin to arise. Charlie wants them to stay living in New York, while Nicole wants to live permanently in Los Angeles. Custody over Henry also causes inevitable conflict. Both wanting different things, Nicole and Charlie decide that a divorce is the best thing for their relationship, and decide to keep it civil. Communicating from coast-to-coast, Nicole and Charlie attempt to keep their divorce as amicable as possible, but eventually, the process escalates from couples therapy to Nicole taking legal action. 

“Marriage Story” follows the story of Charlie (Adam Driver) and Nicole Barber (Scarlett Johansson) through their escalating marital problems, to their eventual divorce. Photo: Netflix

“Marriage Story” was nominated for six awards at the 77th Golden Globe Awards, and Laura Dern, who plays Nora Fanshaw, Nicole’s lawyer, won Best Supporting Actress. It has also been nominated for the awards: Best Actor and Actress, Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Music Score, and Best Original Screenplay at the 92nd Academy Awards, Critic’s Choice Awards, and other acclaimed film award ceremonies. 

The film’s major appeal that earned its nominations is its realism. Unlike most films about divorce that skim over many of the crucial details of the process, “Marriage Story” exposes the complexity and depth of a divorce. The slower pace of the film captures how divorce can be a long, grueling, and emotionally draining process for couples.

Both Driver and Johansson do a phenomenal job of acting like a couple. The chemistry, and more so the tension, is real and convincing. Almost as if they were a real couple who was going through a divorce, they do a good job showing how divorce can tear a family apart, but also how divorce can bring a family back together in the end. Viewers who have experienced the effects of divorce, and even those who have not, are able to connect to the film in a way not all movies can provide. 

Despite its accurate depiction of divorce and the convincing chemistry between Driver and Johansson, the film was often carried by the fame of the actors themselves. “Marriage Story” received a lot of publicity because the actors are so well known, but that does not mean it is worthy of Best Picture at the Oscars.

Filled with raw emotion, award-winning actors, and an authentic story of the complex journey of divorce, “Marriage Story” is not a film to miss. 

‘Marriage Story’

2 hours, 17 minutes

Rated R 

Directed by Noah Baumbach

Starring Scarlett Johansson, Adam Driver, Laura Dern, Julie Hagerty and Azhy Robertson