3 Divorce Lessons From Marriage Story
Divorce is never easy, even if it’s amicable. And Noah Baumbach knows that all too well. The latest film project by acclaimed writer/director was released on Netflix and it’s already generating a significant Oscar Buzz.
Film critics and the general audience alike have praised the modern comedy-drama movie that was partially inspired by his divorce and subsequent custody battle with his now ex-wife Jennifer Jason Leigh. Marriage Story stars Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson, Laura Dern and Alan Alda among others, and it’s already considered as the front-runner in the upcoming Awards season.
Marriage Story is (ironically) a very accurate story about the dissolution of one seemingly perfect marriage. It’s a story about the painful process of divorce and the inevitable side-effects that occur because of it.
But exactly can Marriage Story teach us about divorce? What are the painful but accurate lessons that can be learned from this movie?
Divorce is never an easy process, even when it’s amicable
Don’t get fooled. The dissolving marriage may be amicable and cordial by today’s standards but the process is not pretty. Nor it is easy. That was the case with Charlie and Nicole. The near-perfect power-couple in Marriage story. There are the mandatory court hearings, the enormous lawyer fees, and of course the stress of the divorce alone. And if you add to that the fact that there’s a child (a minor) involved in all this, it’s a messy and difficult process that has the potential to bring out the worst in otherwise civil people.
The child is often ignored or manipulated
If there’s a child trapped in the middle of a divorce, it’s often either ignored or manipulated. We’ve seen it all too many times, and not just in a divorce-themed movie. A child becomes a pawn in the messy divorce game of cat and mouse between the two parents. Is your mother seeing someone? Does your father have a new girlfriend? I’m going to buy you a much bigger and better birthday present than your mother did. And when the child is not used as a pawn it’s often ignored. The grown-ups are usually so caught up in their game of winning and losing that they usually forget to ask the thoughts or needs of their child. Does the child want to live in another city? Or in another state? You didn’t even ask, now did you…
It’s an emotional, physical and financial ordeal for the extended family too
Yes. Everyone is concerned with divorce in one way or another. Let’s take a scene from Marriage Story as an example. The lead female character’s sister had to serve the actual divorce papers to the lead male character. Yup. According to the US law, a third party outside of the marriage is obliged to serve the divorce papers to the spouse in question. There’s no way of avoiding it. The extended family will get involved one way or another. And as much as you’ll want to avoid dragging your parents, sister or cousin into your divorce, sometimes you can’t realistically succeed in it.
And that’s the sad truth.