"Marriage Story" (Noah Baumbach's new movie) is an anti-rom-com. That is, it uses romantic comedy conventions in a movie about a divorce. The lawyers, the sidekicks, and the in-laws are all played for laughs. The divorcing couple (Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson) are more treacly.

The movie opens with each partner's written list of things they love about the other person, which turns out to be part of a mediation for the dying marriage. Driver is a New York avant-guarde theater director; Johansson hs wife and star, who may have an opportunity to act in (horrors!) a TV series out in an L.A. straight out of a Woody Allen movie. Johansson's lawyer is a grotesque (but funny) LA stereotype, and so is Johansson's mother.

The problem: as with the rom-coms the movie satirizes, the leads must be sufficiently charming to make the viewer care about their fates. I'll grant that in real-life, divorcing people lack charm, are vengeful, and act greedily. So what? Why see a movie about that? At least Anna Karenina and Emma Bovary had sufficient charm to make readers care about their awful fates. Johansson and Driver: not so much.