Marriage Story | Movie Review

Thursday 30 January 2020

If you’ve never heard the term “Oscar bait,” allow me to tell you about it. It’s actually quite straightforward. Oscar bait movies are movies that seem to be made just to rack up Oscar nominations. You may be thinking: “But Billiam, can’t a good, award winning movie just happen to be a good film?” Yes, my friend, yes they can, but Oscar bait movies are a special breed. Need an example? Here’s my review of Marriage Story.

To dive a bit more into what signifies Oscar bait films I'll say that they’re just films that seem like they’re trying too hard. They get a great cast with an emotional story that boarders on, or sometimes becomes, melodramatic. Films like The Revenant, The Theory of Everything, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, The Wrestler, and The King’s Speech are just a few examples. “But Billiam,” you may be saying “I love some of those films.” Of course you do. I do too. Oscar bait movies can be great or have good elements to it.

There’s been a lot of buzz around Marriage Story for its fantastic performances and it’s true. Scarlett Johansson has never been better. Seriously, I've never seen her this good before. Adam Driver was also amazing but that’s like saying Wayne Gretzky was good at hockey. He’s a legend, of course he he's good. This movie was well acted all around, but the problem isn’t with the acting.

Let’s talk about Laura Dern for a quick sec, ‘kay? I love Laura Dern. She’s in her renascence now. But getting awards for her performance in Marriage Story over her performance in Little Women boarders on criminal. She was good in Marriage Story. Really good. But she was better in Little Women.

So back to that problem I was talking about. This was a hard movie to watch because no one was likable. I know. I get it. Before anyone tries to tell me, “That’s the point. Divorce is when people are at their worst,” I get it. I know what Noah Bambauch was going for. I just never cared. Movies have to have someone to root for. Even movies about bad people, you need someone to root for. Either that or the “bad” characters need to pull you in so you can’t help but care what happens. Marriage Story didn’t have that.

It was so real, so plausible, so realistically negative, that there was nothing that made me care or want to care about anyone. Even their kid. I don’t care what happens to him, but I should. Divorce is a big deal for kids and I should have cared that the kid got some sort of stable life after it all, but either Baumbach’s writing or directing couldn’t do that.

Marriage Story is the perfect example of a movie with great acting, that doesn’t have any glaring errors in its presentation, but it still fell short. There are a plethora of people out there who don’t have the same issues with this movie that I do. They have no problem with a film that has no one to root for in it. They’re artsy types who flock to Oscar bait movies like animals to an oasis, and that’s okay. Good for them. Good for you if you’re one of them. But I’m not.

I found Marriage Story to be a film with some amazing performances in it that suffers from a lack of people to empathize with. I thought Johanssen, Driver, Dern, and even Alda and Liotta gave what could be the performances of their careers, but it’ll forever be buried in a movie with a forgettable plot that never again grace my television screen.

Marriage Story gets a 4.5 out of 11

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