Day two at the 76th Venice Film Festival welcomed the world premiere of Noah Baumbach‘s personal new feature, “Marriage Story,” starring Academy Award nominee Adam Driver and four-time Golden Globe nominee Scarlett Johansson.
The film follows the story of a marriage in shambles and the family trying to stay together in the middle of it all. The film held its world premiere for press and industry audiences at 8:30 a.m. local time at the Sala Grande in Venice.
At the morning press conference for “Marriage Story,” Johansson spoke on how the project was presented to her around a very personal time in her life, reflecting on her own divorce.
Johansson originally met with Baumbach to discuss the film, not knowing what the project was about. “When I met with Noah, I was going through a divorce, and I didn’t know what we were meeting about at all. And he didn’t know I was going through a divorce.”
“I probably just blew into the room and ordered a glass of white wine and started complaining, and he was just listening and very attentive,” she said of their meeting. “And then he kind of cut it short and said, ‘Funny you should mention it.’”
Baumbach revisits the deeply human themes in his new film. His 2005 feature, “The Squid and the Whale,” dived into the filmmaker’s early childhood experiencing the divorce of his own parents. Audiences at Venice seem to be gravitating toward those seeded connective tissues, elevated by the film’s two leads.
It has fine performances by Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver, a family-pack of box-fresh dialogue and a keen sense of its own absurdity. Baumbach seeks to mine his material for laughs, no matter how desperate the situation becomes.
For The Playlist, Rodrigo Perez relates the film to the director’s past thematic pains:
Unlike say, “Margot At The Beach” or “Greenberg,” which tackled difficult people and difficult emotions with a nastier, even arguably unlikable edge, Baumbach finds the perfect blend of humor, humanity, heart and yes, suffering, to create a utterly compelling, harrowingly three-dimensional portrait of divorce, the gutting pains of a dissolving marriage, a child in the middle of the wreckage, and the family, broken or otherwise, that must go-on regardless.
Writers and attendees expressed their adoration for Baumbach’s latest via Twitter:
Hand Baumbach that Best Original Screenplay Oscar right now because there won't be a better script this year. His pacing is phenomenal and the balance of comedy and drama is immaculate. I am desperate to read the full thing.
— Billie Melissa (@billiemelissa_) August 29, 2019
I need to take this afternoon off to recover from Marriage Story #Venezia76
— Hang Lu (@hanglutvd) August 29, 2019
I’m biased but MARRIAGE STORY is Noah Baumbach’s best film. Full stop. Deeply human story, rich and refined visual language, perfect performances across the board — I keep swooning. I’ve spent quite some time with the film already and I look forward to going back again and again.
— Kris Tapley (@kristapley) August 29, 2019
Noah Baumbach's #MarriageStory is his strongest and most resonant movie yet. A mesmerising, messy and heartbreaking film about the dissolve of a marriage. Every single actor involved is outstanding. But this is Scarlett Johansson's chef-d’œuvre. Astonishing!#Venezia76 pic.twitter.com/oTfe0IDRqd
— International Film Critique (@IntFilmCritique) August 29, 2019
“Marriage Story” was announced as part of the BFI London Film Festival program this morning and is headed to screen at Telluride Film Festival this weekend. The film is produced and distributed by Netflix. Baumbach’s film will have a theatrical, awards-qualifying run starting November 6 and hit Netflix streaming December 6.