The new trailer for Noah Baumbach’s upcoming film, “Marriage Story,” has been accruing buzz around the internet. While most viral trailers get views due to explosive action sequences, the promo for “Marriage Story” is an emotional show stopper. Its trailer is unique not only because of the cathartic response viewers feel but because the promo is actually two clips.
“Marriage Story” follows the ups and downs of the relationship between two parents: Nicole (Scarlett Johansson) and Charlie (Adam Driver). Both Nicole and Charlie each get a trailer from their own point of view. Each trailer feels like a complete story, with either Charlie or Nicole describing what they love about each other before it is revealed that the couple is at a divorce hearing.
Another plot twist occurs when the audience discovers there is another trailer that mirrors the content they have just seen. So, one cannot blame the viewers if they were to believe that Netflix only released one trailer for “Marriage Story.”
The two-trailer tactic emphasizes how different Baumbach’s approach to filmmaking is compared to other directors. Because each trailer focuses on the point of view of a single character, the existence of the two trailers illustrates how “Marriage Story” spotlights more than one perspective, telling both sides of the divorce, whereas most films would only focus on one side.
Just as the choice to release two trailers is bold, so is Baumbach’s style of storytelling. The director’s slice of life narrative style focuses on feeling empathy for the characters rather than traditional story structure.
Rather than having a concrete plot, Baumbach uses the camera to follow his characters through life as seen in films such as “Frances Ha” and “The Meyerowitz Stories.”
His style also stands out due to his intense focus on realistic dialogue. The writer/director often has actors speak over each other to illustrate how people struggle to communicate.
Watching a Baumbach film is a raw emotional experience as it draws in the audience with complex, unclear and tumultuous relationships between characters as opposed to a clear, concise plot, which could limit the audiences’ ability for empathy with the characters. You feel Baumbach’s touch when watching both trailers for “Marriage Story.”
Both Charlie’s and Nicole’s trailers begin with showing the happiness in their relationship. For example, the audience learns that Charlie is competitive at board games, knows all of Nicole’s moods and never gets defeated. Meanwhile, in the other trailer, Charlie explains that he loves Nicole’s dancing, her incredible gift-giving skills and how she always knows when to push her husband forward.
Throughout the beginning of both trailers, the images of their happiest times play, showcasing the sweet moments in the life of a married couple. Both trailers are also set to the same song, Otis Redding’s “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long,” except the song in Nicole’s clip is sung by Cat Power.
Despite the happiness within their testimonies, both trailers reveal that they are speaking at their divorce hearing as the visuals switch to a courtroom setting. Their dreamlike fantasies of each other fade away as they end face to face in a bare room, alone.
However, now neither of them can start a conversation, as Nicole says, “I thought we should talk,” and he responds with “I don’t know how to start.”
In minutes, the clips from “Marriage Story” show the rise, bliss and fall of a married couple in an effective study of how communication between two people can erode.
The two trailers of “Marriage Story” are certainly more powerful when watched together. For example, in each clip there is a brief moment where each spouse becomes enraged during a game of Monopoly. From just watching one clip, you might easily forget this segment. Yet, when one views both clips together, this Monopoly section becomes a poignant bookend for their relationship.
Also, the two trailers work better together because the fact that both of them exist points to the reality that divorce is rarely the fault of just one spouse.
Baumbach’s realistic approach necessitates him using experiences from his own life. For example, his movie “The Squid and the Whale” is about his experience of divorce as a child, while “The Meyerowitz Stories” explores siblings who are the children of marital splits.
When Baumbach co-wrote “Frances Ha” with Greta Gerwig, they both used different experiences of living in New York City as young professionals to generate content for their film.
Now, the release of “Marriage Story” is in the context of Baumbach’s divorce with actress Jennifer Jason Leigh. Baumbach explains to Vanity Fair that he has drawn on his own divorce to create the movie. He discusses how “divorce is like death,” which made him feel as if the content of this movie was important to make.
While many filmmakers use experiences from their own personal lives in their art, Baumbach’s willingness to intensely explore the difficult parts of his own life so publicly separates him from other writers and directors. This intense reflection strives to provide the audience with a true and meaningful story they can relate to.
Whether it is because of his storytelling style or his own personal experiences, Noah Baumbach provides a distinct type of story for his audiences that prioritize emotion over all else. The trailers for “Marriage Story” invoke the tragedy within the highs and lows of marriage and provide a snapshot for the feature’s depth and potential.
“Marriage Story” is vying for awards attention, making the festival circuit. Its world debut will be at the Venice Film Festival, before playing at the New York Film Festival, where it is the Centerpiece Selection.
With big name actors, an emotional hook and a powerful marketing campaign from Netflix, “Marriage Story” stands a strong chance of being recognized as one of the best films of 2019 once it hits theaters later this year.