Writer/director Noah Baumbach explored divorce from the perspective of a 16-year-old boy in 2005’s The Squid and The Whale. Marriage Story finds him exploring the deep emotions of a marriage ending from an adult perspective. When the movie begins, Nicole (Scarlett Johansson) and Charlie (Adam Driver) are in the process of splitting up. Living in New York City, Charlie is a celebrated theater director; Nicole, originally from Los Angeles, was once a teen movie star and now works as a stage actress. They have a young son, Henry (Azhy Robertson). Now, Nicole wants to move back and take Henry with her. She and Charlie have discussed this before, but it never fully registered with Charlie, “We’re a New York family,” Charlie sighs uncomprehendingly several times in the movie.
As happens in real life, once the lawyers get involved–superb turns from Laura Dern, Alan Alda, and Ray Liotta–any hope the two had of divorce without rancor dissolves. Instead, everything escalates and the faultlines in their relationship are laid bare. At the heart of Marriage Story are two excellent performances from Driver and Johansson. There’s sensitivity, intelligence, and even humor, that’s rarely captured on screen when it comes to familial turmoil, including divorce. Baumbach is careful to balance our sympathies; neither party is right nor wrong as we swing between the East and West coasts. There are no winners or losers here, only an eventual and mature understanding. Marriage Story is about two people trying to put their lives back together after the resolution of a once unbreakable bond.
Presented in the 1.66:1 aspect ratio, the Criterion Blu-ray is cited as being from a “New 4K digital transfer supervised by director Noah Baumbach.” It’s on a dual-layered disc with a high bit rate. The image quality is flawless across the board, as you might expect.
On their Blu-ray, Criterion use a DTS Master 5.1 Surround track (there is also a lossy descriptive audio track option.) Like the video, it’s perfectly suited for the film, cleanly delivering the score by Randy Newman, along with clean, clear and concise dialogue throughout.
English SDH subtitles are included.
A nice slate of extras are available:
- Interview with Writer/Director Noah Baumbach (HD, 20:49) Baumbach examines his creative process for Marriage Story detailing the origins of the idea, thematic and emotional intent and legal influences. Casting is discussed, as well as Baumbach’s feelings about the production.
- The Players (HD, 19:37) Collects interviews with actors Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson, Alan Alda, Ray Liotta, Julie Hagerty, and Laura Dern.
- The Filmmakers (HD, 11:51) Collects interviews with Baumbach, producer David Heyman, editor Jennifer Lame, production designer Jade Healy, and costume designer Mark Bridges.
- Making Of (HD, 97:41) A new program featuring “fly on the wall” behind-the-scenes footage.
- Randy Newman (HD, 11:12) An interview with Baumbach, who describes his thematic intent with the music of Marriage Story, while Newman appears to appraise his orchestral choices, experimentation and working relationship with Baumbach.
- Making A Scene (HD, 6:43) Baumbach visits an apartment set, explains his thoughts on the layout, and the technical aspects of some scenes.
- Trailers: Nicole (HD, 1:15), Charlie (HD, 1:19)
- Notes on the film by novelist Linn Ulmann.
Marriage Story (Criterion Collection) (2019)
Movie title: Marriage Story
Duration: 137 min
Director(s): Noah Baumbach
Actor(s): Scarlett Johansson, Adam Driver, Laura Dern, Merritt Wever, Ray Liotta, , Julie Hagerty
Genre: Drama, Romance, Comedy