Marriage Story

Reviewed by Roger Gook

There's an old saying that British and Americans are divided by a common language, and 'Marriage Story',  the film shown at the Keswick Film Club last Sunday, seems to reinforce that and for me it shows our cultures drifting apart. Just because the characters all speak English doesn't mean they behave in ways that are recognisable to us.

The film follows the breakdown of a marriage and the ensuing divorce, for reasons that are not very clear. There is no real explanation of why they got married in the first place and certainly no thought that perhaps they should just try harder to make the relationship work. The two main characters, played by Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver, are excellent in the quieter, more intense moments. But they are surrounded by a lot of arm waving, over emoting, over acting people  - the sort of thing we have come to associate with American sitcoms. This is a pity, as there are a lot of emotional and psychological truths and nuances in the way the story plays out, but these are lost in the noise and I was always aware that this was just a film and that I was watching actors 'putting it all out there'.

If this had been a European film, made with the traditional thought, restraint and intelligence, it would have been excellent. But it was American and so as long as you make sure you are wearing your American 'hat' when you see it, you'll find it excellent.