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Returning to the themes of one of his most acclaimed films, The Squid and the Whale (MVFF 2005), writer-director Noah Baumbach offers another alternately funny and deeply moving snapshot of a marriage in its final stages. With divorce proceedings in full swing as the film opens, New York City theatre director Charlie (Adam Driver) and LA-bound actress Nicole (Scarlett Johansson) have promised to keep their separation an amicable one, not just for each other but for their young son as well, but hurtful admissions and vicious verbal spats quickly sour those ambitions. As Driver and Johansson deliver rich, layered performances at Marriage Story’s heart, Baumbach (who swears the film isn’t autobiographical) surrounds his stars with one of the year’s strongest ensembles—Laura Dern, Alan Alda, Ray Liotta, Merritt Wever, and Julie Hagerty—as he jumps back and forth through Nicole and Charlie’s relationship to capture a kaleidoscopic, bittersweet tale of lost and found love (though maybe not in that order). (US 2019) 136 min

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