5 Times Adam Driver Made Us Cry in ‘Marriage Story’

Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson star in Marriage Story. Noah Baumbach wrote and directed the story of Charlie (Driver) and Nicole (Johansson)’s divorce. Charlie is a theater director in New York. Nicole is an actor in his company who lands a TV pilot in Los Angeles when she files for divorce. They have a son, Henry (Azhy Robertson) together.

Adam Driver in Marriage Story
Adam Driver in Marriage Story | Netflix

Divorce is painful for anyone, and Baumbach’s drama puts both Charlie and Nicole through the ringer, let alone Henry. Johansson is fantastic in the movie too, and the film is very careful not to take sides. Charlie has more moments of his world crumbling around him though and there are several moments in which Driver brings the intensity.

This story contains spoilers for Marriage Story’s emotional moments. Marriage Story is on Netflix now and it may be best to watch in the privacy of your own home where no one can see the waterworks.

Adam Driver makes looking through the gate emotional 

When Charlie is in Los Angeles for a visit, he gets custody of Henry. One night, Nicole’s front gate gets stuck open and she needs to call Charlie to fix it. Charlie comes to help out with a sleeping Henry in tow. 

Adam Driver and Azhy Robertson | Wilson Webb/Netflix

When Charlie finally is able to close the gate, he keeps looking at Nicole as long as possible. He still regrets their divorce. It’s not what he wanted, and perhaps Nicole still loves him a little too. Adam Driver’s lingering look speaks more than Noah Baumbach’s script at that moment. 

You’ll never heard ‘Being Alive’ the same way again

Adam Driver has some stiff competition for singing “Being Alive” from Stephen Sondheim’s musical Company. Barbra Streisand, Raul Esparza and Bernadette Peters are just some of the musical legends who have tackled that tune. 

In a New York piano bar, Charlie starts vocalizing in his seat, then stands up to sing the lyrics. He gets emotional towards the final verses as we can see the bittersweet way Charlie realizes his life has changed but it will continue. 

When Charlie reads the letter

At the beginning of Marriage Story, Charlie and Nicole write letters for a mediator about what they love about each other. It’s his intention to start things off on a positive note, and both Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver narrate their letters over scenes from happier times. In the office, Nicole decides not to read hers. 

Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson
Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson | Wilson Webb

At the end of the movie, Henry finds her letter and starts reading it, so Charlie ultimately gets to hear what Nicole thought of him. Yet at that point, it’s all over so he has to reconcile how it could have gone this way, even with all the compassion Nicole showed at one time. Driver makes us all feel it. 

The first potential Adam Driver Oscar clip 

There are two scenes in Marriage Story that are likely to be in the clip reel when Adam Driver gets nominated for all the acting awards he should for this film. The first comes in a sidebar meeting with his lawyer Bert (Alan Alda) after a contentious meeting with Nicole’s lawyer Nora (Laura Dern).

Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver
Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver | Netflix

Nora makes a strong case for how they’re going to claim Henry should stay in L.A. with his mother. When Bert advises Charlie that he should agree to L.A., uprooting himself or committing to frequent cross country trips, it dawns on Charlie that the life he knew is slipping away. He’s talking about logistics, but Adam Driver shows Charlie is realizing there’s no going back to the life of all three of them, or even him and his son in New York.

The second potential Adam Driver Oscar clip

After it gets even uglier with the lawyers, Charlie and Nicole make an attempt to come to terms on their own. It turns into the screaming purge of all the emotional conflict of their whole marriage. It culminates with Charlie saying he wishes Nicole would just die, and specifically in a way that won’t harm Henry. 

Scarlett Johnasson in Marriage Story
Scarlett Johansson in Marriage Story | Netflix

You can see how much it crushes Adam Driver to admit it. Scarlett Johansson is really vulnerable in this scene too and what makes it is her reaction to what he’s just said. She’s beyond taking it personally and just acknowledges how bad it is for both of them.