Fans of sophisticated divorce drama, rejoice!
Anyone who enjoyed the Oscar nominees “Marriage story, “Valentin blue “ Where “Her” will be captivated by the highly anticipated HBO “Scenes from a wedding “ mini-series. The first episode, starring Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain, finally aired on the network (and its streaming service, HBOMax) last Sunday. Director Hagai Levi’s reboot is based on the Swedish television miniseries of the same name by Ingmar Bergman, which is said to have spiked Swedish divorce rates due to its blunt portrayal of relationship issues. Filmed almost 50 years after the original, this reboot aims to offer a fresh take on modern relationship challenges (and, hopefully, help us improve our relationships, not destroy them).
All the media buzz from the world premiere at the Venice Film Festival makes the series a sure-fire Emmy contender. “Scenes from a wedding “ definitely leans on this expansion, showing a certain degree of arrogance. Jessica Chastain’s opening shot – rushing frantically around the set, distracted by coffee-holding assistants – gives an air of theatrical performance before lighting up. However, this framing device only serves as a gesture to the importance of the production, rather than an artistic freedom that enhances the content of the series. Even Chastain’s brief explanation of a scene on HBOMax perpetuates this claim. Instead of having faith in the audience, she seems to insist that the stage is very deep without involving them through the stage. Marketing around the series is “Scenes from a wedding “ sound important, but does it live up to the hype?
The first episode is visually stunning despite the mundane setting of a domestic suburban home. Cinematographer Andrij Parekh does a great job giving “Scenes from a wedding “ dreamlike photographic quality. Camera work highlights the phenomenal performances of Oscar Isaac as Jonathan, professor of philosophy, and Jessica Chastain as Mira, technical executive. The subtle raising of an eyebrow, hesitation in line delivery, or a change in body language alludes to the electrical dynamics between the married couple and shows the palpable chemistry between the actors. Meanwhile, the close-ups allow viewers to have moments of intimacy with the characters during the episode’s thoughtful moments.
The dynamic between Jonathan and Mira challenges audiences to explore changing gender roles in complex modern relationships. Mira earning more than her husband, Jonathan works from home to take care of their 4 year old daughter, Ava. In this case, the traditional roles of breadwinner and housewife gender are reversed. The dynamics are working well. After all, both partners are able to pursue their respective careers and start a family together. Their relationship, from the outside, seems to be generally warm and successful. Beneath the surface, however, is a tension that seems to be getting stronger and stronger. It will be interesting to see how the series develops and explores the impact of their careers on their identity and relationship.
While Jonathan and Mira’s relationship is at the forefront of the series, the couple really shines when they interact with their friends, Peter (played by Corey Stoll) and Kate (played by Nicole Beharie). Peter and Kate, unlike Jonathan and Mira, are in an open marriage. This passionate couple acts as a direct contrast to our stoic tracks. Unlike the protagonists, Peter and Kate’s relationship issues explode over dinner. By contrast, “Scenes “ seems to say that open relationships are passionate but explosive, while monogamous relationships are reliable but stifling.
This first episode doesn’t make me wonder if “Scenes from a wedding “ worth an Emmy. Instead, I think about how we love other people. Should our relationships be based on reliability and commitment, or should we succumb to the power of our passions? How do you balance these things that seem so mutually exclusive?
Spectacle: “Scenes from a wedding”, episode 1
With : Oscar Isaac, Jessica Chastain
If you liked: “Marriage story”, “Blue Valentine”
Where to watch: HBOMax
Clovers: 4 out of 5 clovers