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#TIFF19 Review: Marriage Story (Special Presentations)

September 15, 2019

By John Corrado

★★★★ (out of 4)

Charlie (Adam Driver) is a theatre director who lives with his wife Nicole (Scarlett Johansson), an actress who performs in his plays, and their young son Henry (Azhy Robertson) in New York. When they start to drift apart, Charlie and Nicole decide to split up their marriage, with her moving to Los Angeles to be closer to her family, and taking Henry with her. While they initially want to separate amicably without legal aid, Nicole ends up consulting ruthless lawyer Nora Fanshaw (Laura Dern), forcing Charlie to consult with a pair of lawyers, one who is gentler (Alan Alda) and another who is essentially street fighter (Ray Liotta), and a nasty custody battle for Henry ensues.

Written and directed by Noah Baumbach, crafting a companion piece of sorts to his acclaimed 2005 breakout film The Squid and the Whale, Marriage Story is an incredibly powerful, brilliantly written and extremely well acted film that is both believable and incisive in its wrenching portrait of a marriage breaking up. The film features a career-best performance from Driver, who brings a mix of raw emotion, sensitivity and indignant pride to his portrayal of Charlie. Johansson is also at the top of her game here, and the young Robertson is excellent as the child caught in between the two. Dern, Alda and Liotta all deliver memorable supporting turns.

In true Baumbach fashion, the film is deeply moving as a drama, while also delivering some extremely funny moments that originate naturally. Beautifully captured by cinematographer Robbie Ryan, and set to a wonderful score by Randy Newman that recalls his work in the Toy Story films, Marriage Story is one of the best movies of the year.

Scarlett Johansson, Azhy Robertson and Adam Driver in Marriage Story

Public Screenings:

Sunday, September 8th – 5:30 PM at Winter Garden Theatre

Monday, September 9th – 11:30 AM at Princess of Wales

Thursday, September 12th – 9:00 PM at TIFF Bell Lightbox 2

Friday, September 13th – 6:00 PM at Princess of Wales

Saturday, September 14th – 2:45 PM at Princess of Wales

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