Aching in its exquisiteness, director/writer Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story” is paralyzing with its candor, straightforwardness, dignity, veracity; a couple who’ve lost their tenuous hold on togetherness, the “ties that bind”, now shackle; love’s elasticity threadbare, worn, irreparable. Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson, give Academy Award performances as the broken couple, “Charlie” and “Nicole”; he is a wunderkind stage play director, she, his muse, his leading lady; after years, and an eight-year-old son, “Henry” (Azhy Robertson) her sycophancy, replaced by earned autonomy, she leaves New York for Los Angeles; ugliness, fed by lawyers, destroys civility, respect; Laura Dern, stunningly, cunningly seizes the role of “Nora”, Nicole’s lawyer, and relentlessly navigates the rocky road to dissolution; Charlie bounces from a kinder attorney, “Bert” (blissful Alan Alda) to “Jay” a pit-bull, depicted with gangster-like acuity by Ray Liotta.
Every scene, detail in “Marriage Story” is coated with poignant potency, perfection. Ablaze with truth, the film commences with each party describing the other; these are poetic tapestries, of beauty, insight; radiant with perception; two individuals chartered for a lifetime, destined not to survive the tsunami of marginalized egos, miscalculations, unheard cries for sovereignty.
Not to be shied away from, “Marriage Story” is a revelation, dazzling in its narrative; luminous performances, pulsating with a pain of such intensity, it’s humbling; recalling the words of William Wordsworth: That though the radiance which was once so bright be now forever taken from my sight. Though nothing can bring back the hour of splendor in the grass, glory in the flower, we will grieve not, rather find strength in what remains behind.
“Marriage Story”, a portrait of intimacy, sublimely, flawlessly executed.