Talking TV: Maybe 'A Marriage Story''s Charlie Isn't (Just) A Villain
Can there be an alternative version of 'A Marriage Story' told from Henry's perspective so I can play childhood trauma roulette?
A Marriage Story unpacks the mediation and divorce proceedings of Charlie and Nicole, who in an attempt to split amicably for their son, Henry, are working to remember why they got together in the first place. Easy enough, right?
I'm not a hopeless romantic. I'm a HOPEFUL romantic because around my 3rd time watching it I started to accept that Charlie and Nicole never would have worked out because Charlie never really saw Nicole outside of the context of his expectations. It's clear they love each other and have an intense admiration for each other's work, but that also speaks to the complications of their relationship. He loves how she brings his wildest ideas to life, but he only offers the most critical lens of her and her work.
The most frustrating feeling is that you can clearly see how they could make it work, but somehow doing so would go against who they are. Charlie is selfish and career-oriented, which is fine until he drags his family through that even in divorce. This is what's wrong with only seeing potential, you're banking on a change that might not ever come. They discussed Nicole's aspirations to move to LA and trying her hand in directing, but somehow Charlie always directed his own work and they stayed in New York as a result of their continued success. In the beginning, Nicole aided his success using her talent and name because she believed in the work and working on something you love with the person you love is supposed to be the dream. She felt alive, but she never came alive for herself.
The argument scene got to the point of it all. Sometimes arguing is like saying the truth, but with an angry and quick filter. Comparing each other to their parents and Charlie trying to flex on her about the ass he missed out on was hard to watch, but maybe that's really how they felt. After only listening to the words the first few times I watched, I felt the pain those words stemmed from. He felt she pulled away from him because she wanted to focus on her own career, the symptoms of her having a little pocket for herself went against what he wanted. One thing he said was spot on, she got tired of conceding to him but that was her choice from the beginning. Relationships are about compromise, not compromising yourself. The wonderful thing about choice is that you can choose something else in the next breath, but in relationships, both people have to be willing to restructure the foundation upon which it was built.
The half of communication is listening, and somehow everyone forgets that. Charlie translated what Nicole said into what he wanted to hear. Nicole deciding to choose her identity over what her marriage had become her choice to stop screaming amongst deaf ears. He only started respecting the process of a divorce when legal documents and lawyers spoke on her behalf, they agreed to no lawyers but did she really have any other…choice?
Why couldn't he have decided to be a professor at UCLA when they were still married? Why would he cheat (especially in such close proximity) when they were trying to work things out? Honestly, I think the cheating in comparison to everything else was more of an annoyance and further proved he had no regard for her. He didn't do everything he could to save his marriage because he didn't want to and that's his...choice.
When referring to LA, Henry says "Dad, all of my family is here...besides you". In a relationship, the person you're with feels like home and a house being lived in makes a home. CHARLIE, NEW YORK IS JUST A LOCATION IF YOUR FAMILY ISN'T THERE. There has to be some give and take in a relationship, please know love isn't always convenient. New York is a hub for theater and art, but he can do some variation of his job anywhere. Love in partnership is choosing that person every single day, especially when it's hard. He is in love with his son and his work, those are the relationships he feels are worth fighting for.
Dear Charlie. That's fair, but FUCK YOU!
In a weird way I now understand my own break up a little bit better, God bless my inexplicable need to give connection and understanding to everything that happens in my life. I can see a little bit of my parents, myself, and parts of my first relationship with Charlie and Nicole. Nobody wants to feel like they've been chosen too late. Doing anything for the person you love might make you feel the need to shrink. Much like Charlie, I'm definitely okay with being the ex that the whole family still loves and mom still asks about :P
I'm currently working on knowing my dealbreakers in a relationship and having a partner that I can't work on passion and business projects with might be one. Having that 24/7 sounding board was something I got a taste of, but now that I'm confident in what I bring to the table I'll be even better at reciprocation. Part of me feels like if I keep rewatching this movie it'll change my own story, but it won't. This movie is frustrating, life is frustrating, and I'm officially more frustrated. Thank you Adam Driver.
Comment below with how you felt about A Marriage Story! Like and share with someone who's on the fence about watching it because of that one Twitter clip.