To look at its synopsis, this film shouldn’t be particularly different from any other relationship drama, but it’s a testament to Noah Baumbach’s
writing that he manages to explore divorce, artistry, and the very nature of love in all its complexities, while creating his most mature, emotionally sophisticated film to date. Approaching the subtle traumas of divorce without unnecessary explosions of drama, the emotional climaxes are treated carefully, conveying a quiet sense of pain and grief which simmers and bubbles throughout, allowing Driver and Johansson to flourish in their roles.
While most buzz will likely revolve around Driver’s performance (and deservedly so), special note must be given to Scarlet Johansson, who, perhaps for the first time since ‘Lost in Translation,’ is finally allowed to play someone other than a robot/spy/action-hero and skilfully draws raw emotion from her own divorce, to allow her talent to shine through in a charming, smart character who you’re allowed to dislike a little bit too.
Baumbach has truly honed his craft with this film, inserting light humorous moments at times, at other times, knowing exactly when to turn up the tension and when more can be communicated by saying nothing at all. As what is meant to be a simple divorce quickly becomes a full on legal battle, it’s the contrast created between loud, shouting courtroom scenes and the silent moments of the aftermath when the characters aim to process the manner in which their lives have unfurled, which packs the most punch.
This film will make you cry a little, laugh a little (Laura Dern’s lawyer is hilarious throughout), and mainly pray to god that you don’t have to go through a divorce anytime soon.
Overall, two main things can be taken from this film:
1) Divorce is exhausting and terrifying,
2) Hollywood needs to stop giving Scarlet Johannson such boring roles.