It’s official: this is the Year of Adam Driver.
He’s already starring in The Report (another TIFF offering), as well as the highly-anticipated Star Wars finale The Rise of Skywalker coming to theatres in December – for most actors, those two projects would likely be enough.
Thankfully for audiences worldwide, that’s not the case, as Adam Driver gives the best performance of his career in Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story. It’s a deeply personal look at the relationship of Charlie and Nicole Barber as they navigate their divorce – one that quickly becomes contentious (as they tend to when child custody is involved), and you’re left wondering ‘how did these two people, who loved each other so much, get to this point?’
Driver’s partner is Scarlett Johansson, who ably adds to the proceedings as Nicole, Charlie’s beleaguered wife who realizes that perhaps she didn’t have the marriage – or life – that she envisioned after all. It’s a thought that has likely crossed the mind of many a person in long-term relationships, and the frankness with which it is presented is refreshing. Even so, Johansson is the Earth to Driver’s Sun, as she’s seemingly given a tad less to do in general.
Laura Dern, Ray Liotta, and Alan Alda make appearances as a cadre of lawyers that the Barbers interact with; each of them presents a different way forward through the divorce, with Liotta acting as the nuclear option in a very entertaining introduction. Dern stands out in particular for a monologue she delivers towards the end of the film – after the two stars, she easily steals almost every scene she’s in.
It’s important to note: Marriage Story is a very thoughtful film, relying on director Noah Baumbach’s script at every turn to push the action forward. The dialogue feels real, which is an impressive achievement; you get the sense these are glimpses into the lives of two real people. Baumbach also uses the film’s two settings – New York City and Los Angeles – to push the idea that the Barbers are so divided, they live on (almost) opposite ends of the continent.
A divorce can get nasty, and it’s never just limited to the two people in the relationship. It can permeate and change one’s life in ways that are unimaginable, seemingly forever, and it’s this idea that Marriage Story deals with. Baumbach has delivered a moving take on relationships and marriage, and as a result, it presents one of the best performances of the year.
Marriage Story hits Netflix on November 6, 2019.
You can find Sho (and his many takes on #TIFF19) on Twitter at @SNSAlli.