Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson play a husband and wife who are about to get divorced. They have to decide how far they’re both willing to go for the custody of their son, and just how much they want to screw the other parent over in the process.
This movie has some great acting from both Driver and Johansson. They both become the people they play and you feel their character’s pain or happiness vicariously through them. They both deserve the Oscar Nominations they got for their roles in this, at the very least. Also, I want to compliment the music in this film, which I just looked up and saw it also got a nomination and was done by none other than Randy “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” Newman. That guy never ceases to surprise me at his musical range and stylings.
What doesn’t quite work for me is the plot in this film. It’s not bad, just basically what you’d expect from a film about a couple going through divorce. It shows them fighting, finding lawyers, making up, fighting again, going to court, etc. It basically has the same plot points as Kramer vs. Kramer actually, outside of the mom being physically distant at the beginning and abandoning her child, but in the 70s that was essentially how you had to show audiences that maybe Mom shouldn’t have full custody of the kids.
Also, though the beginning started off very strong, it ended in more of a whimper not a bang. So many scenes that just didn’t go anywhere or do anything. At one point, at the end of Charlie (Driver’s character) meeting with someone seeing if he’s a good enough father to have joint custody, he demonstrates his “knife trick” to her and ends up cutting himself. He has to go through the whole process of saying goodbye to her, including helping her unlock the front door, before finally having to run water over his cut and getting an incredible amount of paper towels before passing out on the kitchen floor. This scene lasts for at least 10 minutes and doesn’t go anywhere at all. Young screenwriters and filmmakers, please, don’t do things like this…
Also, there’s a few plot points that just don’t make sense/waste time for no reason. For example, Charlie finds a lawyer who’s too expensive so he goes to another lawyer, but he’s not enough of a jerk, so Charlie goes back to the first guy and hires him. This isn’t just a couple of scenes, Charlie hires the second guy for a while before firing him. It just feels like he should have hired the first guy originally and the second guy was just a waste of time. I mean, maybe that’s what this film is trying to show, to some degree, but the way it’s presented doesn’t flow fluently.
+6.5: Decent but nothing spectacular
+1: Great acting
+1: Good music
-1.5: Too many scenes that just waste time
-1: some wonky plot points