The festival's open night previewed the film that will screen on Netflix starting in December.
Marriage Story is slated to release on Netflix on December 6, 2019, but the opening night audience for the 30th annual New Orleans Film Festival saw it first on Wednesday night. The Spotlight film starring Adam Driver and Scarlett Johannson centers around two thespians who find love at an early age and fall out of it after having a child (played by Azhy Robertson).
Where the film shines might be unintentional for director Noah Baumbach. Marriage Story sticks to reality, so the characters, while a little boring, feel authentic in dialogue, situation, and narrative flow. It’s a meta take on the prospect of divorce facing about half of American marriages that doesn’t need to rely on melodrama despite focusing on the divorce of an acting couple. Adam Driver plays a good, self-possessed director, portraying his character without being completely unlikable. Johannson moves her scenes without hiccup, bringing plenty of depth to her role as someone who wants her own voice and own space separate from a controlling, neurotic director and husband.
If you’re a child of divorce, this film will likely resonate with you. There are only a few moments where things get cheesy (Kylo Ren, unfortunately, can’t cry without looking whiny) and the reach for comedy only occasionally stretches too far.
The supporting cast is effective, especially where Laura Dern, who does an excellent job as a ruthless divorce lawyer who projects her previous marriage troubles onto her clients. Robbie Ryan’s cinematography doesn’t get in the way of the narrative, even if the shots and sets leave nothing memorable. If there is one major challenge for Marriage Story, it’s the two-hour plus runtime, but even there, there's truth in Marriage Story: lawyer-mediated divorces can be a real slog.