A comedy is often defined as a narrative that culminates in marriage. But what about a narrative that starts with the dissolution of a marriage? Marriage story is one of the most acclaimed films directed by Noah Baumbach. It addresses divorce, which is one of the most gut-wrenching topics in the current world. In reality, divorce is wholeheartedly devastating to both parties. Although divorce stories are a penny in pop culture, people seldom narrate their painful experiences in real-life situations as the movie makes them. It is sad to see things that started sweet end bitterly with people separating after sharing goods moments. It’s hilarious and tragic, often in the same moment, and it weaves a story out of the chaotic collapse of a shared reality, attempting to create melody out of discord. The tune is full of grief, loss, and regret, yet the song is too lovely to be completely depressing.
In the film, Nicole moves out of her native home California to star in a TV pilot, deciding her love is not comfortable out, eventually refusing to join her(Marriage story 00:00-13:45). This creates irreconcilable differences that force Nicole to file for a divorce. The film describes divorce as a dead thing without a body. Meaning that something has been lost, and there is denial, anger, and grieving. The movie captures the irony nature of love where two people who care for one another do things they promised they would never do to one another. With the remarkable compassion of the two characters, Baumbach shows how some circumstances in life will turn people into versions they never expected to become.
Even though they are caught in the vicious cycle that characterizes the vast majority of failed relationships, Charlie and Nicole stand out as the film’s shining example of what can go wrong. Because of the court proceedings and the arguments made on their behalf by their lawyers, the couple’s relationship begins to deteriorate even further as their animosity grows even more robust. Many couples going through a traumatic divorce will go to great lengths to ensure that their children do not have to attend the hearings in person. As a result, Charlie and Nicole shield their child Henry from the court proceedings. Following her divorce, Nicole has concluded that “falling in love right now” is not as simple as it appears to be (Baumbach, 2019). As seen through the eyes of the main characters, Charlie and Nicole, Marriage Story depicts the heartbreak and misery that divided families experience as they try to reconcile and maintain a sense of normalcy in their children’s lives.
The film shows that the inability to solve challenges is a major contributing factor in divorce cases. Maybe if Nicole could have stayed, they would have sorted their issues. Marriage Story begins with Charlie and Nicole attending a mediation session to solve their issues (Marriage story 00:00-:25:20). They are requested to write down what they liked about each other to remember why they fell in love. In the end, Nicole gives up and leaves. Finally, after their bitter divorce and custody battle have been resolved, and the divorce has been finalized, Charlie pays a visit to Henry and his father, and Henry shows his father the list of qualities his mother admired in him. Charlie sobs as Henry reads the letter to him aloud. Nicole keeps a close eye on things from behind him. After watching this couple crumble under the weight of the divorce’s emotional, financial, and societal demands, this moment of emotional release feels richly deserved. A simple act that both of them took for granted is shown to them at the end, even though they have never stopped loving one another.
The majority of divorce narratives depict the situation as either good or bad in black-and-and-white terms. It may be said that the “good” spouse is the shining example of selflessness, whereas the “bad” spouse is the one who is narcissistic and selfish and who is usually the wife in such instances. Over-the-top yelling bouts and dramatic last-minute surprises are prevalent in courtroom situations done for laughs. However, some films prefer the dirt and muck of real life because it gives an image of authenticity. However, Marriage Story stands out for its skill and courage to forsake cheap showboating in favor of a more painful truth about most divorces: The end of a marriage does not always signal the end of a relationship, and the resultant emotional turbulence can be just as devastating as a breakup itself.
The film uses lawyers to show that it is no good or bad in divorce circumstances. Charlie and Nicole are undergoing divorce proceedings with the help of lawyers. Nicole hires Nora, a family lawyer, to persuade Charlie to seek a lawyer for the case. This is contrary to their initial agreement to divorce amicably and avoid the legal process. As Nora accurately points out, Nicole is frequently overwhelmed by Charlie, which may work against her in any solo discussions with him. Charlie consults with two lawyers: one who prefers a more conciliatory approach and another who charges more and wants to fight dirty. Charlie initially employs a conciliatory lawyer, but when the former couple’s first meeting with Nicole and Nora goes awry, Charlie hires the other lawyer who wanted a dirty fight situation. Nora and Jay become aggressive when the case goes to court, depicting their respective opponents negatively to secure a victory for their clients. Nora criticizes Charlie’s prior relationships and accuses him of failing to understand or respect Nicole’s emotional needs, while Jay depicts Nicole as an alcoholic. Charlie and Nicole attempt to maintain a cordial relationship outside of the courts and spend quality time with their kid despite this ugliness. Life must continue for them, regardless of how difficult it is, apart from the dramatics imposed by those hired to do so. Nora and Jay are not villains in Marriage Story, even though they cause Charlie and Nicole a lot of unnecessary troubles. Simply put, they are performing their duties effectively since divorce is frequently messy, and expertise is required to guarantee the process works as smoothly as possible.
Nicole is delighted when Charlie announces that he has accepted a job offer in another state. Although Charlie’s refusal to leave New York was the main reason for the divorce, he is now at peace with the idea that life is beyond his hometown. Nicole and Charlie’s bond grows stronger at the end of the film, and she agrees to let him stay the night with Henry even though it is officially her allotted custody time with him. When compared to seeing their child and each other happy and receiving the affection and care they require whenever the occasion demands it, the necessary amounts of days and money that their lawyers argued over are inconsequential.
Although she had become the face of her husband’s accomplishments in various fields, Nicole had spent many years living in the shadow of her well-known and respected husband. The mental anguish is written all over her face as she discovers a strong sense of personality and a new way of life in California that is impossible to miss from the film. As the story progresses, her mental anguish transforms into dissent as she learns to stand for herself (Baumbach, 2019). Charlie has established himself as one of the most well-liked and respected film directors in the industry due to his hard work and dedication. He is regarded as a fearless and magnetic figure who can persuade anyone to believe whatever he says, regardless of how unlikely the situation appears to be.
Furthermore, he appeared perplexed in the film as their divorce proceedings progressed from civil to contentious. Charlie seems perplexed that the situation has deteriorated dramatically due to his actions, ending their marriage in a divorce. The film depicts a complex subject in a moving and expertly executed manner. The two have undeniable chemistry, and the emotion in their performances contributes to the script’s success. The film leaves the viewer with an understanding of most couples’ difficulties before deciding to end their relationship. The experience results in a challenging viewing experience worth the effort. As shown in the film, humans can continue to live even when life throws adversity after adversity at them, destroying their morale.
Divorce does imply that you become enemies for life. Marriage Story concludes with a heartwarming scene that highlights the film’s core themes. Nicole yells at Charlie as he gets ready to take Henry out. Before she can say anything else, she hastily ties Charlie’s loose shoelace, and the wave’s goodbye is a good gesture. Nicole cuts Charlie’s and Henry’s hair, something Charlie likes a lot. They are married for the rest of their lives because of this one intimate and trusting moment. He still accepts her offer to trim his hair even when they are at their lowest points as a pair and anger runs high. Their inclinations are always to care for one another despite the legal struggle that has arisen between them. The fact that Nicole cares about Charlie even after her observation of a dangling shoelace illustrates their divorce. Because the marriage ended, such intimacies did not go away.
Last but not least, Marriage Story has far more on its mind than other divorce films, elevating it beyond the confines of its well-trodden subject matter and into the world of exceptional filmmaking. The society has trained people to believe that divorce is a scenario in which people choose sides and that the only way to deal with the complexity of divorce is to resort to violent means. Lawyers do not make compelling characters in typical situations, whether they are depicted as bad people only interested in money. When Nora and Jay fight dirty, it is because it is expected of them. Nora is particularly aware of how women are supposed to be immaculate throughout divorces to avoid being written off as poor spouses or moms. Whatever the origins of this narrative marvel, Marriage Story provides a genuine moment of gain among all of this tragedy. In our society, divorce is viewed as an adverse event; however, Marriage Story seeks to shift that perception.
It is hard not to like Marriage Story because it brings together all of the elements that create a great piece of filmmaking. As the film comes to a close, Charlie performs an emotional song titled ‘Being Alive,’ expressing how the entire divorce process has broken him down emotionally. On the other hand, Nicole appears to have discovered her distinctive voice and personality when she joins her mother and sister in singing joyfully to the tune of ‘You Could Drive a Person Crazy.’ The mother and sister could represent the support system surrounding her as she embarks on a new chapter of her life following the divorce proceedings and the failure of her previous marriage. Marriage Story is an endearing and passionate roller coaster that reveals a story that many couples can relate to while utilizing every detail of filmmaking to tell a captivating story.
Baumbach, Noah, director. Marriage Story. Netflix, 2019.