Scenes from married life: the great art of remake (review)

Scenes from a Marriage
HBO

A modern adaptation of breathtaking dramatic power, infused by a Chastain / Isaac duo at the top.

Replay Ingmar Bergman in 2021, the bet was not won in advance. It is however brilliantly noted by the Israeli director Hagai Levi. His HBO remake of the Swedish classic from 1973 is a “masterclass” of the genre, able to take (sometimes) shot for shot the original, while (often) offering these Scenes from married life a remarkably neat facelift (to be seen in France on OCS since September 13).

The HBO setting is more flashy. But the essence of the subject filmed by the Swedish filmmaker half a century ago remains intact. The precise dissection of the couple remains the priority of this new series, which leaves Scandinavia to take us to the American east coast. Mira and Jonathan have been married for a decade. They love each other, already have a little girl, but in this modern marriage where the man largely takes care of the home, the wife struggles to find her place. A “successful” businesswoman on a daily basis, she tends to step aside at home, facing her husband, a philosophy professor, with an imposing personality. Even if they have everything to be happy, their union seems doomed to disaster …

Long-time friends, Jessica chastain and Oscar isaac met on the school benches in Julliard. And they seem doomed to play married couples. Afters A Most Violent Year (in 2014), the two old friends resume their cinematic marital relationship. And their osmosis gives all its strength to the series. As if their complicity in the city was reflected on the screen, they visibly went to the end of themselves to wear this variation of Scenes from married life, scrutinizing a couple’s implosion.

Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac tell us about their Household Scenes

Chastain and Isaac are overwhelming and impressive, linking scenes of verbal jousting of crazy intensity, with a subjugating theatrical setting, where the flow of dialogues competes with the flow of improvisations.

Because that’s how Hagai Levi thought of his remake. The creator of The Affair, who was already examining the couple and their pangs from every angle, wanted to film this home from the inside, exploring every room of this American house with an assumed voyeurism. A real study of characters, sometimes difficult to approach, because almost emptied of all emotion at times. A sumptuous and meticulous autopsy of the marriage, which leaves bloodless.

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