“Marriage Story” is really an un-marriage story in the sense that it’s about a couple coming apart instead of coming together. But writer-director Noah Baumbach still considers it a love story. “It’s told in the cloak of divorce, and of course it is about divorce in many ways, but I was really focused on the love story of it, and … exploring how when something isn’t working you kind of see it in a different way or in a more clear-eyed way,” he told press and industry at the New York Film Festival on October 4. “In that way in looking at divorce I could explore marriage.” Watch Baumbach’s entire NYFF press conference with the cast of the film above.
The film stars Adam Driver as a renowned director of experimental plays in New York City and Scarlett Johansson as his wife, an actress in his plays who has ambitions of her own that she has had to put on hold for the sake of his career. By the time we meet them they’re already at the end of their tether, and there was one scene detailing the deterioration of their relationship that convinced Johansson to sign on to the film instantly.
“I think the first thing that I’d gotten … was Nicole’s story that she tells to [Laura Dern‘s] character,” Johansson explained about the monologue that gives us an in-depth look into their dissolving relationship through her eyes. “I don’t know any actor who would get those sides and then not [take the role]. There was no question after that. After I read those sides I was like, well yeah, I’ll see you on set I guess.”
It goes without saying that the process of divorce can be deeply painful, so there were plenty more emotionally wrought scenes for the to play. And for Driver there was hardly a scene that didn’t push him to his limits. “I think sometimes in movies there’s a scene that scares you that you know is coming up on the schedule … But for this movie I felt every day was one of those scenes,” he admitted. “It’s a testament to good writing that the stakes were high in everything … They were all emotionally challenging in that way.”
“Marriage Story” is the centerpiece selection this year at NYFF. It screened for the public on October 4 following that morning’s preview to members of the press and industry. It screens again on Saturday, October 12. But if you’re not in NYC for the fest, the film will open in limited release on November 6 before making its Netflix streaming debut on December 6.
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