ashleigh!’s review published on Letterboxd:
Life is a confusing thing. At some point or another, we think we know all there is to know. Then, when we actually get thrown into the world and experience things that we thought would be so simple, we feel lost. We feel like we don’t know what we really want, because nothing is what we anticipated.
All my life I’ve watched the relationship between my parents go from extreme highs and extreme lows. When I was younger, I thought things were simple. I thought happiness was a natural thing that just came to people, and that nothing bad could ever happen. As the years went on, I of course realized this wasn’t the case. I saw the flaws in both of these people. I witnessed the heated arguments. I witnessed the apologies. Them trying like hell to make it work. I realized that relationships weren’t as easy as they once seemed to me. When I was younger, I thought things could be simply fixed. I wanted them to stick together no matter what, not realizing how miserable it was making us all in the long run. I didn’t understand the complexities within relationships and how sometimes it just can’t work. Sometimes, even when you fight like hell, there’s only so much you can do.
I’ve seen many films where I’ve felt parts of myself projected onto screen, but Marriage Story might just be the closest. I’ve never seen a film go this deep within the topic of divorce. We see it all. All emotions are looked on, where films tend to just hone in on the anguish and suffering, which is of course here, but we also see the longing. The characters wishing things were different and desperately trying to find a way to make it work, only realizing that it just can’t. It’s very bittersweet in a way, since they love and respect each other so much still, but just can’t continue on the way they once were, and it hurts.
All sides in the process are looked into, even the child in the middle, which is probably the character I see myself in the most. I’ve been there, and even now I’m still sort of there(my parents are still a bit on and off.). Even if you find yourself empathizing more with one character than the other, there are parts of both that seem justified and parts of both that are “wrong”(for the lack of a better word). Both parties are flawed and have done some not so great things, and also have reasons for their feelings.
My personal connection of course plays a big part in why I love it so much, but even without that, it’s a fantastic film in an objective sense. The performances are by far the best part, the emotion on display makes it all the more believable and makes it feel as though you are watching a real couple. As everyone has probably already said, the writing is amazing as well. All of the exchanges between the characters feel like they have been pulled from real life. There are pauses, interruptions, choking on your words while tearing up, little quirks that make it feel so genuine. It’s emotionally taxing because it is of course such an ugly situation, but so worth it in the long run. It’s one of the best explorations of not only divorce but general relationships, and not knowing what you want in life/realizing what you thought you once wanted isn’t all you thought it would be that I’ve seen thus far. The characters are all fleshed out, all aspects of the story delved into appropriately, nothing feels wasted or too bloated. Even if you’ve never been in this sort of situation on any side, I’m sure there’s some part everyone can connect with in even the slightest, and I couldn’t recommend it enough.