Written & Directed By: Noah Baumbach
Cinematography: Robbie Ryan
Editor: Jennifer Lame
Cast: Adam Driver, Scarlett Johannson, Alan Alda, Ray Liotta, Laura Dern, Julie Hagerty, Wallace Shawn, Merrit Wever, Mickey Sumner, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Irene Choi, Robert Smigel, Carlos Jacott, Lucas Neff
An incisive and compassionate look at a marriage breaking up and a family staying together.
This film feels like a kind of footnotes version of a personal story about the writer directors experience having a divorce but showing it through other characters.
Presenting it in a way where the audience can relate to it though has similar problems or having a couple so famous and successful that at times they seem bigger than life and as we all enjoy stories of stars and the backstage drama of their lives. Yet getting to know their inner workings and finding out they are just like us.
We get equal time with each getting their own testimony of sorts about their own lives and each other. So that neither eve becomes villains in our eyes or theirs, but we get to see each’s heroic tale and their own tragedies up close. So that there are no clear cut corners.
Each lead actor gets their chance to shine and be taken out of their comfort zone. As seen scenes feel like overwrought dialogue from an advanced acting class but the actors still manage to shock and impress. Usually the film aims to cut deep here it feels more like the film is giving all sides to a story strong on both sides but there is still plenty of gray area. For instance scarlet Johansson shines In her monologue when first meeting her lawyer played by Laura Dern.
The film still manages to maintain a sense of humor and quirkiness even in it’s dark times that makes the film never quite as depressing as we might think is coming.
The film is a love story of sorts. That is a California sorry. As even though it is supposed to be bi-coastal. It stays mainly there just like the characters and it plays a large part in the outlook of the movie. As writer director Noah Baumbach usually keeps his films in New York giving the metropolis a beauty but basking sometimes in it’s gloom. Leaving there to a community but also closed off to a degree.
Where as here he shows California to be melancholy but still offers more openness and a sunny outlook when it comes to possibilities.
It does have the feel of when Woody Allen would make his movies that were obviously inspired by Igmar Bergman. Though somehow Baumbach manages to carry both styles and perfectly mix where there is enough comedy and enough depth in the drama that allows all the material to have a lighter touch throughout. But still hit you at certain times.
The film never feels bogged down or too self serving. Though it also never feels quite as tough, torturous or rough. As it might feel like it deserves. As for instance it is open to the same emotions but never as bare or downtrodden as a John Cassavettes Film.
Though it does also carry the same problem that the movie THIS IS 40 carries where it is identifiable but it still is the audience watching something of a couple more rarified where you Watch an upwardly mobile successful upper class it even upper middle class couple go through the motions and asks the audience to have sympathy for them.
It’s interesting in the film where the two characters are in show business which is all about emotions. More or less gave to keep their emotions and plans to themselves as their lawyers more perform their wishes to the court and try to be civil the whole time.
As every marriage has their own story to tell and insights. One can’t complain too much about where this one goes or the issues it presents. As the film offers a more mature look but still has a whimsical quality. As this is a divorce story among all else.
A film that fits all its seriousness always has a song in it’s heart. Which gives it a safe barrier to keep reminding us. It’s just a movie, a story that is almost in a different dimension. Yet everything is like our own. While it reveals itself a little too easily.