Premieres on HBO on 13 September. Subsequent episodes air on Mondays 9am and 10pm.
4 out of 5 stars.
With divorce rates on the rise, Scenes From A Marriage might seem like an apt social commentary. The five-part miniseries revolves around the deteriorating marriage of psychology professor Jonathan (Oscar Isaac) and tech executive Mira (Jessica Chastain), and is a remake of the 1973 TV series of the same title by Swedish director Ingmar Bergman. That series was so popular that it later got re-edited into a feature length film, and it was said to have inspired filmmakers like Ari Aster, Richard Linklater, and even Woody Allen. But does this 2021 version live up to the 1973 one?
That’s not to say that there’s nothing new. Some episodes begin with a scene which shows the actors (not the characters) on set, as they prepare for the scene — before segueing into the actual beginning of the episode itself and having the story begin proper. And those opening scenes have the production crew decked out in masks, reminding you that this is new and current and shot during a pandemic, which promised a fresh new adaptation of Scenes From A Marriage… but eventually devolved into a strange storytelling technique. It’s weird, and you never quite get used to it.
The most painful scenes, however, aren’t when the main characters are together – it’s when Jonathan or Mira are alone. Their pain is so visceral that it’s almost impossible to bear, and that’s when you see how badly the marriage impacts them. These scenes feel like they should be extracted and dissected for all aspiring actors to watch, and held up as a masterful example of solo performances.