When it comes to making audiences cry, movies and TV shows typically have a playbook. And more often than not, the play most chosen is the death of a character, usually backed by swelling music and metaphorical visuals. Other paths to take may include traumatic plot twists, a detailed descent of someone suffering from a disease, you name it. The thing is, though, all of these scenarios play out in dramatic, story-like ways.
Marriage Story takes the path of detailing the deterioration of a relationship, something that’s often seen in film and television, but does it in a way uncharacteristic of stories before it. While its title includes “story,“ the actual plot of this film feels simplistic and all too real, which is why it ends up being one of the most gut-wrenching films to have come out in a long time.
Don’t let the title be misleading, the film isn’t going to detail a happy marriage and fill audiences with warm feelings. It’s instead going to make hearts ache and cause stomachs to ascend into throats. This movie is an emotionally traumatic masterpiece from start to finish.
The beauty of Marriage Story starts with its simple premise. It doesn’t feel like a large production. Even the score is seldom utilized, and when it is, it’s a quiet, classical backdrop. It’s focused on two characters’ marriage descending into divorce and the emotions that come along with that for not only the couple but also their son.
This film then takes its simple premise and makes it one of the most powerful plots to ever play out in cinema due to the extreme realness that comes along with it. The raw emotion that comes with relationships, in good times and bad, is present throughout the entire film. Marriage Story can grab ahold of viewers because of its relatability and sense of reality.
Not to mention, Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson put on absolutely amazing performances. The tears, the laughs, the screams, they throw themselves into this movie and give it their all. The just over two-hour runtime plays not like a film but like an actual documentation of a real couple. Every movement, every expression, every word spoken carries the power of the film because of the spot-on, believable portrayals by Driver and Johansson.
Noah Baumbach, the writer and director, has done so much more than write a great story or craft a film characterized with precise camera movements and a beautiful score. He’s taken a premise that many movies have used in their books of normal heartbreak, and made it unique by simply making it feel real. No drama, no gimmicks, he just uses pure emotion that can be felt by anyone.
Marriage Story is heart-wrenching in the most refreshing way. It takes a failed relationship, shoves the viewer into both parts and then leaves them to watch everything unravel as if they’ve been apart of it themselves. The engrossing power that this film has, based only on emotions that everyone is all too familiar with, is terrifying.
It won’t shock, it won’t scream, but it will certainly tell the story it wants to tell in the most beautiful and soul-shattering way it possibly can in order to make any viewer shed a tear in awe of what happens on the screen.
Jackson Horvat is a sophomore studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Do you agree? Tell Jackson by tweeting him at @horvatjackson.