Three versions of a Marriage Story
Updated: Jun 26, 2020
Spoilers of Marriage Story ahead!
If there is one thing we learned with the movie Marriage Story—by Noah Baumbach, 2019—is that divorce lawyers are thirsty hyenas preying on a corpse. But that is not the lesson I want to talk about today. I want to be less morbid and comment on the amazing way this story is told and what we can learn from it.
Maybe it is clear that the story constantly changes perspective, going from Nicole’s to Charlie’s point of view. But have you noticed a third POV?
In a less obvious way, the story is told from a different angle: ours.
The subtle changes in the acting and in the way the script was brilliantly written would be enough reason for high praise. Every time we follow Nicole, Charlie’s flaws and egotism become evident. When we see things from Charlie’s perspective, Nicole’s misconducts and confusion become apparent. Those details are not only told through narrative but also in the other’s behavior whenever we are in one’s perspective. The acting was amazing.
However, there are moments when the story gets away from flaws and judgments and presents only a situation--the two of them. Two hurt people that love each other going through a rough patch in their lives. In these moments, it is not the characters’ POV we are experiencing; we are the spectators in the most literal sense of the word.
We are not watching the misguided impressions of a suffering wife or husband. We are merely watching the fall of a marriage in which the feeling of love is overshadowed by pain. Those are the scenes that intensify the audience’s grief. We can see beyond the flaws and realize what is being lost.
This is the second and most subtle lesson: the movie tells us that every marriage story has three versions, and there is no way of judging the situation from one of them.