MARRIAGE STORY (15)
D: Noah Baumbach
Netflix/Heyday (Noah Baumbach & David Heyman)
W: Noah Baumbach
DP: Robbie Ryan
Ed: Jennifer Lame
Mus: Randy Newman
Adam Driver (Charlie Barber), Scarlett Johansson (Nicole Barber), Laura Dern (Nora Fanshaw), Alan Alda (Bert Spitz), Ray Liotta (Jay Marotta), Julie Hagerty (Sandra), Azhy Robertson (Henry Barber)
Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson deliver fantastic performances in Noah Baumbach's deeply personal film about a marriage breaking down but a family staying together.
Comparisons could be made with 1979's Kramer vs Kramer, which also deals with divorce and a custody battle, although Marriage Story shows the story from the perspective of both the husband and the wife.
Charlie and Nicole Barber have lived and worked together in New York City for several years, becoming admired for Avant Garde theatrical productions, but when Nicole accepts a starring role in a television series, she and their young son move to Los Angeles. The couple originally decide to separate without the necessity for lawyers to get involved, but they inevitably do and the legal proceedings uncover the ruthless ugliness that a divorce can be.
From the outset, Baumbach directs with a personal touch, bringing us into the character's lives, and at times it makes for a difficult watch as it goes on the tumultuous journey, with occasional humour to counterbalance the moments that do tug at the heartstrings.
It could possibly have done with a little trim to bring the running time down to just two hours, but the narrative doesn't drag and there's no real issue with the pacing.
The two leads certainly deliver two of the finest performances of 2019 and demonstrate perfectly what excellent actors they are.