RasmusS’s review published on Letterboxd:
I just got so invested and swept away by everything on screen that there is little room for analysis. This film is the performances. Not to say that Baumbach doesn’t know how to use and elevate them with his writing and well orchestrated long takes but the leads are miraculous. The way Johansson and Driver hold back tears or show anger is brutal. I’m always having a hard time describing what makes a performance good because I think in its core it should just be mimicking reality so that the viewer finds believability in the character. This is the epitome of that.
You will get invested in every situation because the writing is amazing although some things were played out either too safely or for the sake of entertainment. There was plenty of humor and it didn’t always work for me.
Baumbach’s strength seems to be in finding various perspectives and keeping them hidden. It is the fact that there is no communication or understanding between our leads which makes the atmosphere excruciating. To me the film paints a picture that marriage, something supposed to feel like a safe place, can be a prison. Nicole and Charlie have become invisible to each other. The pain and suffering they’ve caused takes over as those lovely things they’ve written become painful, lost memories. Sped up by the process so inhuman and cold. I think the most heartbreaking aspect for me was to see how awful the laws and detached the court is. It kinda has to be but especially how Laura Dern goes for that one extra day just shows how much people care about winning rather than making peace. It’s love turned war.
People often think that they need to have something more and live life to its fullest. Here those ideas are sprinkled in the midst of this break up - realizing this relationship isn’t offering what they themselves nor their spouses want. Trying to redeem and have revenge on those lost dreams and hopes the other has taken away becomes the main point. Reclaiming space in order to become independent. At the same time they both rely on each other. That big fight is essential because it lets them vent and then realize what they sound like. They need the fighting but they also need each other after it is over, because of their child. Becoming aware that they both want to maintain a good relationship for Henry. Just not with each other.
I think this film takes the approach of focusing a lot on Charlie’s perspective and you have to see through that to see he is equally as much to blame. Given the affection of Henry for Nicole and Charlie’s adventures during their marriage that is not hard to see but my sympathies went for Driver for a long time. I think that is a slight problem but once the film is over it balances out and you just wonder how devastating this film has been.
Not related to the film but I’m frustrated because I didn’t have time to watch any other Baumbach films before this and now I’ll probably put them off again to watch something else. And I also should watch Bergman. I have like ten of his films that I haven’t even touched yet.