Marriage Story ★★★½

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[originally written as part of my TIFF '19 coverage]

Like The Squid and the Whale, perhaps a bit too emotionally straightforward to really rattle me—I tend to prefer Baumbach when he’s hiding behind brittle humor (though not when he pushes that into outright sourness). Consequently, the big knock-down drag-out toward the end, though beautifully acted by both Johansson and Driver, left a shallower wound than did, say, the awkward dance regarding precisely when and how Nicole should serve Charlie with divorce papers, which winds up playing out as neither party imagined or would have preferred. At once wrenching and overly neat (circling back to Nicole’s unread list of things she loves about Charlie; the tenderness of her final gesture), full of moments that ring true but also inclined to spell things out. If the goal was to make me (even more) glad that I’ve never gotten married or had kids, so that my breakups have been limited to “mere” anguish rather than also freighted with legal nightmares and child-custody battles and attendant financial ruin, mission the fuck accomplished.