Marriage Story (15)

One of 2019’s best reviewed films, ‘Marriage Story’ charts the disintegration of a New York couple’s relationship. The Barbers struggle to reconcile their ambitions and family commitments until divorce seems the only option. They have a son, but his character isn’t much explored. The suspect message seems to be that families can fall apart with little fallout.

Visually, the film has a gorgeous high contrast and grainy quality, reminiscent of Woody Allen’s thematically similar ‘Husbands and Wives’. The script is also laced with Allenesque dark comedy. The acting is superb, though one particularly shouty scene gets a bit hammy.

Laura Dern won an Oscar for her role as a divorce lawyer – her character offers a sad glimpse of a world of heartless litigation. The US family legal system is portrayed as fast-tracking divorces and leaving little room for reconciliation – tragic if true. The story suggests the involvement of lawyers marks the point of no return.

Initially the film packs an emotional punch, but on reflection the characters are shallow. ‘Marriage Story’ unintentionally comes across as an indictment of a couple whose creative ambitions and desire for autonomy are more important to them than their son. Positively, it works as an exposé of the self-serving world of US divorce lawyers.

‘Marriage Story’ is available on Netflix and DVD/Blu-ray.

★★★★☆ Engrossing and well-acted, but doesn’t entirely work on its own terms.

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