In Review: Marriage Story

Noah Baumbach opens his newest film, Marriage Story, with a duet of affectionate observations between married couple Nicole (Scarlett Johansson) and Charlie (Adam Driver). Included in their lists of admirations for one another are details symmetrical and some suggest a fractiousness, but among their mirrored responses is their young son Henry (Azhy Robertson). But as the bottom falls out and their love lists prove to be an early exercise in their just-beginning divorce proceedings, this lyrical sequence proves to not be a first deception but a very pointed preamble. Marriage Story is about a divorce, but it remains a love story.


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In Review!: “Wilson”

Woody Harrelson is one of our reigning underrecognized actors, versatile in hilarious and compassionate ways that defy easy typecasting. Craig Johnson’s Wilson, however, provides a showcase tailor made for the actor’s acerbic confrontational humor and brimming humanity – problem is it’s a vehicle all too unworthy of his gifts.


As the central Wilson, Harrelson is game and at home in the skin of this foul-mouthed and off-putting loner. When his father passes, Wilson seeks out his troublesome addict ex-wife Pippi (an equally well-cast Laura Dern) only to discover she had kept their child he believed to be aborted. His journey to make a relationship with the now adopted child Claire (Isabella Amara) makes for inconsistent bursts of rancid humor and heart. Adapted from his own graphic novel, Daniel Clowes’s screenplay is a series of small bites that make for a messy meal. But the star does the heavy lifting, and Harrelson is aces.

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In Review!: “Certain Women”

Kelly Reichardt is our chief purveyor of the American western landscape, creating films such as Wendy and Lucy and Meek’s Cutoff that also bring women to the forefront. Her latest, Certain Women, is a triptych of female-led stories (from three disassociated short stories by Maile Meloy) that examine this geographically located kind of woman and the unique dispositions that result from their environment. If Reichardt’s films have been desribed as remote or chilly, Certain Women has a more easily accessible wealth of complex emotion and intellect beneath its stoic gaze.


Each of its three chapters feature women not saying what they are thinking or feeling, whether out of frustrated ambivalence (Laura Dern), familial politicking and shame (Michelle Williams), or lack of relational knowhow (the gloriously present newcomer Lily Gladstone). With only circumstantial ties binding them, its Reichardt inquisitive and patient hand that make these disparate pieces feel like a complete whole. The result is fascinating to chew on as the film lingers, if not always easy to reconcile – the parts are mostly more incisive than the whole.

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