hopscotchee: laura dern score: 79.5 rating: R time: 136 minutes
but wwwhhhhyyy do i to want to watch a sssaaaddd movie? we know, we know! it's not like we were jumping up and down to get to this one either - okay, tbh, we kinda were - but it sucks just as much that the movie poster is a big, fat facade!!
yep! sorry, if you didn't already know scar jo's smile was all but a lie, but it was kinda spoiled for everyone the day the trailer dropped. like, they're really not tryin hide anything there. so yes, marriage story is a sad movie, but to be fair, it's not like it's the saddest movie out their *cough cough* tuck everlasting. however, regardless, that still leads us back to your beginning question...why do i want to watch a sad movie????????
well, for one, the cinny (cinematography) is anything but sad! from start to finish, every frame of each shot was not only absolutely stunning, but added additional purpose to the silent story at play which enriched the film as a whole! opposed from the loud story (conveyed through the dialogue and actions between characters), the silent story (conveyed through the sets and shot comp) was just as important, if not more important in this particular film. as great as the hot and heavy yelling and screaming scenes between the couple were for the film's bubbling boiling-point storytelling, the subtle details that sparkled quietly in the background juxtaposed the traditional 'fighting' during a divorce, which greatly drew attention to the contrast between them. for such an example, (spoiler) in the scene between nicole and charlie on the subway, their passive aggression towards each other screamed from the screen (despite the lack of any dialogue) due to the silent decision to shoot this shot as a medium wide, which abundantly emphasized the distance the couple exaggeratedly created to avoid one another that was even further dramatized from the dividing subway poll that separated them. and by having nicole and charlie's distance be exactly parallel to each other, the symmetrical balance portrayed their equal frustration in the divorce by keeping them on the same 'playing field' if you will. if instead, charlie was towards the back of the subway, it would suggest that nicole was more dominant in the relationship to make charlie move - or vise-versa - but by importantly keeping them level, it kept the characters human and canceled the option for the audience to naturally stereotype one of the spouses as the villain. it's literally like a two second scene, but all this tells you everything about the couple and what they're trying to do for the relationship and themselves more than any one of the long, intense, arguing scenes in the film. and luckily for us, there are a generous amount of these scenes sprinkled through the movie :)
with that in mind, if the cinny isn't enough to cheer you up, there's also the script. mwah! kick fake shake (shakesphere) in the crotch and get him outta here, because noah baumbach's marriage story is the new romeo and juliet. doomed from the start but hopeful 'til the end, you are forced to develop a relationship with these two as they are trying to divide their own. you can't stop the inevitable from happening, but it is impossible to not grow attached to nicole and charlie and ship them for all 2 hours and 16 minutes of this film. however, this is where the 'mwah' comes into the picture. writer (and director, but specifically writer for this paragraph), noah baumach, knew exactly what he wanted to do when conveying this story. setting it apart from most break-up movies, there is not a 'before and after' in the relationship, there is only 'after'. cleverly, he removes the typical lovey, dovey, couple cuteness exposition that slowly grows into the tear in the relationship and strips it and flips it to just the problem then the characters. GENIUS!! which, sauces up the chemistry between nicole and charlie because rather than presenting them as a couple, you establish them right off as two people, who have fallen out of love (different from two people falling out of love), that are trying to move on from their love-limbo. this concept alone is simply complicated, however, none of the dialogue felt unnatural or unrealistic beside from one minor, infopacket when g-ma (spoiler) was explaining how she was in her 60s with a dead, gay husband. but nonetheless, this was another bizarro accomplishment to the storytelling. mwah!
now, if you're really not in the mood for a sad movie - which we understand, it's not like we're living in the happiest of times right now with the c-word in the air - but if we've also convinced you into a corner with no way out, here's the ONLY way you could say 'no' to this stunning film...the editing. now, take a good look at the all caps 'ONLY' from before. this is stretching it thin. the editing isn't bad, but it had enough interruptions to disturb us from the story. to preface, the way they chose to edit this was like a theatrical play. this isn't why it was bad, we actually thought it was a brilliant style, since charlie is a play director and nicole is his actress in the play, but in place of 'act ends' or 'curtains closing' there were 'fades'. again, fades aren't bad, if used appropriately and/or consistently, but...the over use of fades in this movie were NOT consistent which caused the story to feel jolting at times. randomly going back and forth from fade-to-blacks, cross-dissolves, and fade-to-whites, this made a great scene end flat which was disappointing. but, in all honesty, there were only, like, 4-5 of these in the movie, so if that's not too much disruption for you, then there's nothing holding you back. and better yet, the rest of the editing (aside from the fades) was emotionally moving, strongly utilizing fast cuts between charlie and nicole whenever they were confrontational with each other which spiked up the suspense to avoid lulls in the film.
enough said, why do you want to watch a sad movie like marriage story, because it's good. and if you're going to watch a sad movie, don't you want to watch one that's not crap? twinsAF approved and stamped, this sad movie is a sad movie worth watching and crying over!! *tissues sold separately*
-- thanks, laura xo