The film which released last year, August 29, in limited theatres and started streaming digitally on December 6 was well-received by the critics for its realistic portrayal of divorce and for the performances of Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson, and Laura Dern.
Laura Dern who plays the sharply dressed divorce attorney representing Johansson's character was singled out for by reviewers for her performance. The strongest aspect of the film is its approach to the story where it avoids being sentimental and overdramatic and tries to tell the tale in a matured manner.
Also, the film does not have good-guys and bad-guys, only people stuck in are less-than-perfect, trying to do what's best for them and their family, making it hard for the audience to point their fingers and lay the blame.
In familiar territory
The director, Noah Baumbach, whose 2017's Ben Stiller and Adam Sandler starring 'The Meyerowitz Stories' which dealt with similar family issues, has made this film based primarily on his own experiences.
Baumbach, married to actress Jennifer Jason Leigh in 2005 and had a child with her before their divorce in 2011, it is self-evident that this was his primary source of inspiration while writing this story as the characters in the movie can be seen in quite the similar situation. Johansson's character after the divorce moves back to Los Angeles, much like Jennifer Jason Leigh did after her separation with the director.
Although very little details are known regarding the real-life separation, there was a custody battle over their son, something that also happens in the film.
Personal, not autobiographical
However, the director would disagree with the film as semi-autobiographical and is more personal in nature. He claims he might be drawing from some aspects of his own life but it is not a perfect recreation.
He isn't interested in recreating his life but creating something real that everyone can relate to. One of the filmmaker's agenda while making the film was to show how the legal system brings out the worst in people during separations and just how time-consuming they can be, as his own divorce took till 2013 to fully get resolved.
"The system in a way is its own beast, and the lawyers aren't bad," Baumbach said explained when asked about the drama in the film.
"They're certainly not villains. They're both products of the system, but they understand the system. They're there to help you manoeuvre the system and, given the system that we have, they're necessary." he added
When asked about his personal connection with the material at the Venice Film Festival he said, "Of course, I have a real connection to the material. But I was also at a time in my life where many of my friends were getting divorced. I saw it as an opportunity to do something more expansive, so I did a lot of research. I interviewed a lot of my friends, and friends of friends, and then also lawyers, judges, mediators."
The film has been nominated for 6 Golden Globes including Best Actress for Scarlet Johansson, Best Actor for Adam Driver, Original Score for Randy Newman, Best Supporting Actress for Laura Dern, Best Screenplay for Noah Baumbach and Best Motion Picture.