Length: 137 minutes / 2.28 hours
Marriage Story (2019) isn’t a movie about divorce so much as it is a movie about the east coast vs. the west coast. While I’ll admit that there were some pretty good performances in this film (notably, Laura Dern was spectacular), there wasn’t anything new here that other movies like Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) hadn’t covered. Additionally, it was a bit difficult to separate the two leads (Scarlett Johannsson and Adam Driver) from their other famous movie roles, which made it difficult to commit to the premise fully. Plus, movies like Marriage Story are just uncomfortable looks into lives in shambles that probably hit too close to home for some people.
It’s weird how so many successful elements didn’t come together cohesively for me. Randy Newman’s score sounded great, but it made the film sound more like Toy Story (1995) than Marriage Story. Likewise, with the famous acting talent present: they had exemplary performances, but it didn’t seem to gel with the movie as a whole. I will concede that the opening scenes where the characters narrate what they love about their partner felt almost eerily familiar to my own life and its quirks, but perhaps that’s just being able to codify the male and female conditions.
If I were to pinpoint one of the biggest things wrong with Marriage Story, it’s the awkward moments. Most of these scenes seem to go on too long (like Adam Driver singing) or play to laughs or pity that made me cringe more than produce the desired effect. Additionally, one of the most shocking scenes was an incident near the end that felt like it would have had some lasting impact on the plot but was never mentioned again (despite its dire circumstances). I’m not going to spoil what that scene is, but you’ll know it when you see it.
A wannabe Kramer vs. Kramer without the heart, I give Marriage Story 3.0 stars out of 5.