“Marriage Story” (Netflix)

Scarlett Johansson, Azhy Robertson and Adam Driver star in a scene from the movie "Marriage Story." The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. (CNS/Netflix)

By Catholic News Service

Engrossing study of the divorce process as an avant-garde New York theater director (Adam Driver) and his actress wife (Scarlett Johansson) split, their initial shared impulse to behave decently toward each other and to shield their young son (Azhy Robertson) being swiftly undermined by the legal system and by the aggressive stance of some of the attorneys involved (Laura Dern and Ray Liotta).

Writer-director Noah Baumbach’s hard-hitting drama, which also features Alan Alda as a more sympathetic lawyer, covers a broad range of emotions, from gentle affection to blind rage, each mood carefully calibrated by the script and skillfully evoked in remarkably fine performances. Viewers guided by Gospel values will find an implicit but unmistakable affirmation of marriage since the loss of the bond between the principals is limned in starkly tragic hues.

Though the dialogue is steadily studded with terms that would normally preclude endorsement for any but grown-ups, some parents may consider that the underlying value of the picture overrides such considerations where older teens are concerned.

Mature references, including to adultery and sexual acts, brief irreverent talk, about a half-dozen uses of profanity, a couple of milder oaths, frequent rough and much crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

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