TIME

Scenes from a marriage, and the scars left behind

IN THE DAYS WHEN MOVIE STARS USED TO APPEAR IN MAINSTREAM melodramas made for grownups—when we used to have mainstream melodramas made for grownups—it meant something to watch suffering play out on a deeply familiar face. Joan Crawford, James Stewart, Barbara Stanwyck: surely, with their charisma and their carriage, these people couldn’t be as susceptible to emotional torment as we mere mortals are. But then you’d see their hearts being broken or their spirits being crushed, and the sting was acute. They reminded you that no one is too beautiful to feel pain.

That’s the effect of watching Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver, two of our own most appealing modern Johansson and Driver play Nicole and Charlie, the two halves of a disintegrating couple: He’s a smart, modestly successful theater director about to debut his first show on Broadway. She’s his star actor, enormously gifted but overshadowed by her husband’s ambition and outsize confidence.

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