A “Marriage Story” Movie Review From Someone Actually Going Through A Divorce

5 min. readbyDan VadeboncoeuronJanuary 14, 2020
Contributing writer Dan Vadeboncoeur reviews the Netflix movie Marriage Story from the perspective of someone going through a real divorce. Does it hold up?

It's Oscar season, and to prepare, I am attempting to watch all the nominated films in the next few months leading up to Hollywood’s biggest night.

I was a bit reluctant to see the critically-acclaimed Marriage Story on Netflix. As someone currently going through a divorce, I was worried that this incisive look at the horrors of a collapsing marriage starring Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver would hit too close to home. Would this film mirror my experiences, forcing me to re-live some of the most difficult times in my life? I wasn’t sure I could take it.

But the film buff in me is a completist, and so I hunkered down, Kleenex at the ready, to watch the film.

Turns out I had nothing to worry about.

Don’t get me wrong, the film is extremely emotional and well-acted. Driver and Johansson both deliver incredible performances, and I did see portions of my life through their eyes. Their nominations are well earned, and I would not be surprised to see them walk up on the stage come Oscar night.

But in the end, this story is just too far from reality for me. The two protagonists are a stage director (Driver) and actor (Johansson) fighting over whether their family should live in Los Angeles or New York. In my opinion, this is not a common scenario, and one that is likely meant to resonate more with the film actors, directors and producers who make up the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. It’s Oscar Bait, and while I could identify with the characters’ emotions in the film, I could not relate with their situation.

The lawyers are definitely the villains of the movie. Laura Dern and Ray Liotta play hard-as-nails attorneys fighting for every last scrap of money for their clients. Add in the nightmare that is the California family law system, and this situation ends up becoming the worst divorce ever! I could see this movie actually deterring people from using lawyers during their divorce, the depiction is so awful.

Divorce does not have to be like this. I know though experience that the right lawyer can help you separate and divorce amicably, fairly dividing up any assets and creating a custody agreement that is in the children’s’ best interests. The legal proceedings in this film did not ring true for me, it’s more of a “worst-case scenario” than anything else.

Marriage Story is a good movie. It’s well-shot, well-written, and the acting is near-perfect. It has all the qualities of an Academy Award-winning film. If you’re a movie lover, you’ll definitely want to see this one. But I have to believe that the purpose of this story is to show people how bad divorce can be, not how bad it always is. Divorce is a part of life, and like everything else you get out of it what you put in. Find the right lawyer and you will absolutely not have a divorce like this one.

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