Marriage Story Explained | A Love Story About Divorce | Netflix

This is Behind the Curtain. Today we’re
learning why perspective is so important in Marriage Story, how Noah Baumbach
wrote the climactic fight scene and why he works with his editor early in the
writing process. Enjoy. I didn’t set out so much I’m gonna write a divorce movie
I thought I’m gonna write a love story but it’s gonna take place in the
narrative of the divorce. Well, when I did come up with the opening sequences I
think it gave me a kind of guide for what the movie was going to be I mean in
a sense it’s you could call it a fake-out and that is you could say well
oh this is not a guide for what it’s gonna be but actually what I felt was in
this in a sense it’s a fake out in a fake out because you’re experienced when
we’re watching them when it’s over it’s like oh these were this what felt so
immediate and intimate and of family and love is now immediately past tense
because I always knew the marriage was going to start at the end and the story
was going to start at the end of the marriage I should say and it was a sort
of almost like getting a running start yeah into that story from me as a writer
to kind of understand place and the family and what was the day-to-day and
what will be absent as the movie begins and also not but it was in doing that
that I realized that it also was the movie and should be in the movie and
then it became the beginning but I didn’t know it when I was writing them
what I was doing exactly and that was kind of my guide was all these little
things in life these feelings we’ve had for a person and still have as the
mediator even says in the beginning don’t just go away overnight the end and
or ever no matter even if you’re no longer going to be married and so I was
always conscious of love existing in every scene but also of life and I mean
that in the broad sense of like the things of our life the little things of
our life are going to exist no matter what is happening because the
divorce process the legal process of divorce is as we see in the movie is
really consumes their lot it takes takes over their lives it almost literally
almost literally strips them of their voices but all these little things don’t
go away so still you need your hair cut you know you still you order lunch
still you get your child ready for school you write a check for to your
lawyer you know these all these things that are sort of included in the movie I
felt in word the movie you know the things that was like well normally you
wouldn’t you don’t often see lawyers say how much they charge and or or and then
even after that watch somebody write a check to their lawyer that’s the stuff
you kind of assume in a movie I imagine that happened at some point yeah right I
talked about money and I thought well but that’s that should be emphasized
that should be you know that’s and so all of that went into as I was writing
it once I understood that and I didn’t understand it right away but once I
understood it that was a guide for me going forward how are you doing and early on I came up also with the
notion that we would spend more time with her early on and then we would move
over to him a bit I felt that the movie many things I thought that the movie was
also about perspective and this sort of notion of perspective without ever
calling attention to it because it was never gonna be I wasn’t interested in
like a he-said she-said or you know something where it’s you know but I did
feel like there was a way that we could kind of gently show her side and his
side separately so that when they that last sort of the movie your third or so
shot very much from both of their perspectives so that the audience could
have could kind of come to it honestly that because it’s natural in a movie if
you’re following a character to feel take their side to feel you know be will
be with them I mean Hitchcock has the thing about you know like if you’re with
a burglar breaking into a you know family’s home and they’re just trying to
find where the jewels are and then the family comes home and the burglar has to
get out you’re nervous for the burglar you know you’re it’s you’re it’s because
it’s all about perspective you know I think it’s it’s natural that when we’re
with Scarlett in the beginning of the movie and we’re telling Nicole she’s
wakes up in her childhood home she’s doing her TV show she’s goes to see Nora
that you know and she tells her story that we’d be sympathetic to that and
feel if not her side at least we feel were in her world and that when Adam
returns to the movie and we kind of move over to his perspective so that when
he’s going through his day and even when she reappears
we’re always over his shoulder now so she’s almost like a character hidden his
day mm-hmm even though we’ve also been with her for a big portion the movie
already and then when we’re in the the mediation is when it shifts when they’re
in Nora’s conference room and and and Burt is representing Adam at that point
and we kind of bring you into it it starts
on close-ups of both of them and we hear the lawyers voices almost as if it’s
like internal monologue or something like that they’re or they’re talking to
each other but of course it’s lawyers talking it’s nothing they’re saying
nothing but then we start going over both their shoulders to each other and
at that point we stay over both their shoulders even when the lawyers are
talking to each other even when we open up the room so now it’s always their
experience and it mean it stays that way that they are now sharing it equally and
I felt that it was a way for the audience to arrive at arrive at the
place of you know they’re both equally worth worthy of our sympathy our empathy
everything’s true and nothing’s true they’re doing the best they can but like
I said I feel like maybe they come to it honestly in a way having had the
experience of potentially taking aside earlier on a lot of the sort of blocking
of that scene from his point of view was motivated by just what you’re saying
which is like he goes immediately to the refrigerator you see he’s not he’s not
doesn’t ask he is he’s totally comfortable just seeing what they have
to eat getting it out he knows what the plates are he knows where the silverware
is he doesn’t think twice at an envelope that’s right above the silverware which
of course we know is for us is almost like a bomb that’s waiting to go off in
this scene and and that casualness and that freedom that he feels you know I
think makes the scene that much more heartbreaking and tense because because
you see just what what you’re what you’re highlighting is how much is it
risk for him there too and of course for her to I mean she she’s sort of tasked
with having to kind of break this news to him which is sort of for her
unnecessary evil I guess in a way and that she you know wants to sort of begin
the next phase of her life and this is the way the lawyers would have
instructed her to do it and then he comes in also with this good news that
he’s just won a MacArthur grant which also suddenly makes it even harder for
her because she doesn’t she is genuinely happy for him too you know I think it is
designed to to sort of shift things I suppose I mean because at that point
we’ve been we’re very much with her we’re very much
in her kind of perspective of things you know as she returns to Los Angeles and
she’s both returning to a kind of older life but trying to start a newer life
and we’re all very much with her there and so when Charlie even enters at the
beginning of that scene he’s we’re still kind of seeing him through her
perspective who mean it’s almost like he’s a character in her movie at that
point you know when he tells her about the MacArthur grant it’s her experience
of hearing that that that we’re sharing it’s not we don’t get to see him find
out he want it and it’s not till after that sequence that things start then we
shift a bit over to his perspective listen if we start from a place of
reasonable and they start from a place of crazy when we settle we’ll be
somewhere between reasonable and crazy the lawyers have kind of taken focus and
we’ve and and Charlie Nicole have have lost their kind of agency and also their
perspective and and perspective also was a kind of big part of the movie for me
thinking about whose perspective are we in you know and of course the audience
is going to have their own perspective so they’re gonna you know in a sense I
always wanted to implicate the audience of excise well I think to arrive at the
place of its it’s pointless it takes off yes and I was interested in how the
fight both I mean on one hand of course they say you know very cruel things and
and they kind of go to a place that is a you know that of course they would wish
they could have avoided but there’s also catharsis in it because I felt that they
need some way of finding their agency again their voices again and it’s
sometimes it’s in breakdown that you you know you need to break down and I think
it’s particularly true for Charlie’s character because Charlie’s character
has been is much more controlling and has been kind of catching up the whole
movie and this is in a sense where he can’t hide anymore and you see that even
in the blocking at the scene he’s the one who’s moving away I thought well
what happens I mean it’s like children trying to
learn language it’s they flail they say nonsense they say that can be mean they
can be ridiculous they can be you know it’s it’s it’s like trying to grasping
and it’s like I and I I sort of thought of it a little bit that way of like they
don’t know what they mean anymore you know and they’re so you know they’re
in danger anyway of being corrupted by this system and you know the story is of
them finding both maintaining their humanity but also refined in humanity
you know on the other side of the scene sort of in some kind of linear fashion
of a script I tend to write and I tend to edit the same way which is I will
keep moving forward and then I’ll go back and revise and then I’ll move a
little bit more forward and then I’ll go back and revise again so that by the
time I am by the time I have a draft and this basically works out the same way by
the time I have a cut of the movie it’s much closer I don’t have a kind of
gangly rough drafts it’s usually in pretty good shape I bring my editor Jen
lame in always from early drafts because my idea is that we should almost cut the
script the way we’re going to cut the final movie so I yeah so like let’s
shoot what we think we’re really gonna use I want to have time with these
scenes and time for the actors and I like to do a lot of takes and I want to
I want to you don’t get as much out of these scenes as we can get and not feel
like oh I don’t want to shoot scenes or things that I’m not going to use if I
can avoid it I mean there’s always stuff you cut but if I can get the script as
close to what I think the movie is going to be I feel like all the better
wonderful writer named Deborah Eisenberg she’s an amazing short story writer and
she was saying that for her it’s so much of the process is the rewriting to take
all the cliches out and I thought well that’s it’s what’s great about that is
what she’s acknowledging is is that they are in all gems in the you know even
they aren’t even all points of inspiration they are sometimes very
common cliched ideas but you’re transforming them into something else in
the context of what you’re doing and sometimes a scene says too overtly what
the scene is about and it’s it’s trying to rewrite it so that you’re finding
language and behavior that sort of says the same thing but doesn’t say it
overtly you know when writing there sometimes days that feel just
feel better than others where they think we’re the like when I feel like I really
kind of understand the characters and the scenes or like the dialogue is
flowing and I feel like oh this is like you know just I guess maybe they say it
simply like it’s a day where I feel like oh I wrote a good scene today that’s
always kind of an exciting feeling because often I don’t have that feeling
and and and sometimes you I’ll look back and be all that seems better than I
thought it was or then the other scene is not as good as I thought it was but
it in a way it doesn’t matter because that flow of being in that place of kind
of conscious and unconscious I mean I think that’s maybe the the answer it’s
like it’s when like because the writing is sort of that time for me it’s like
where I’m both kind of pushing this story along but also moment to moment
I’m trying not to censor I’m trying to you know live in this space of
unconsciousness and consciousness and when that feels like I kind of could
like ride that wave for a little bit you know cuz you never can ride it super
long that’s exciting and sometimes it does take sitting down and just pushing
through and writing some scenes and not being Precious about well am I ready or
am I not ready it’s like well let’s see let’s see because you sometimes I might
not feel ready and then I’m able to figure something out right hi this is Nehemiah Jordan the creator
of behind the curtain I have so many videos lined up that are coming in the
next couple of weeks as well as a bigger project that I will be announcing soon
go and subscribe so you don’t miss anything I’ll see you next week as we
take another look behind the curtain

About the author


  1. The Adam and Scarlet's confrontation by the end of act 2, especially Adam's acting after mentioning his father is just… Brilliant!

  2. Man this movie SUUUUUUCKED big time!
    Most depressing shit ivé seen in years.
    Big let down after Meyerowitz stories.

  3. honestly, no offense to people who liked this film, i went into it thinking it was going to be really good because i've heard a lot of positive things about it and i just didn't like it at all. i was bored to death and i just don't see the appeal. the only thing i really liked was laura dern's performance, other than that it felt bland. i watched a few youtube videos explaining the themes and meaning and it didn't really help, they're so obvious, the movie basically speaks for itself. i feel like it's a bit overrated.

  4. I think the idea of making the audience take sides is good. How boring if a movie pushes a certain narrative too hard.

  5. Awesome vid! I really enjoyed this movie, though it was painful at times to watch. Not in a bad way but such that things were going so badly continuously and the stakes seemed so high.

  6. I belive that behind the details and settings Marriage Story is the same as Bergman's Scenes from a marriage. A fight of honesty and mistakes of the self. Something a bit universal in a relationship.

  7. A lot of the comments here are quite negative about the movie, saying it could be better etc but honestly I've read a lot of last year's big scripts and this one is one of the best no doubt. Beautiful writing

  8. Thanks for watching! If you enjoyed watching the video, it would help a lot if you could share it! A lot of people have found my videos through Reddit, Twitter, and Facebook and it's the best way to share my videos with new people.

  9. I saw this movie BECAUSE I saw that you uploaded a video about it (before actually watching your video). I was NOT disappointed… thank you.

  10. Big fan, but please don't start calling these videos "X Explained" – we're not morons that have somehow misunderstood the film and need it explained to us. Your videos are all great collected bonus insights from the artists that made great films and shows. How about "Marriage Story Explored"? or "How Noah Baumbach Wrote Marriage Story"? or anything that isn't EXPLAINED like it's the latest bamboozling episode of Mr. Robot!

  11. "they go to a place they wish they could've avoided" for fucks sake Nicole walks out of the marriage counselor's office at the very beginning of the film

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