The first episode of Scenes from a Marriage, directed by Hagai Levi and based on 1973 Swedish miniseries by Ingmar Bergman of the same name, leaves you with a lump in your throat and wanting for more. Scenes From A Marriage Episode 1 has a runtime of 60 minutes.
Juilliard School mates Oscar Issac and Jessica Chastin play the protagonists of this new release. The chemistry these two actors share was palpable on the Venice Film Festival’s red carpet where the video of Oscar Issac kissing Jessica Chastin’s arm blew up the internet. Since then, fans have been early waiting to witness the duo play a married couple on screen and they have not disappointed us.
– Scenes from a Marriage Episode 1 Review has mild spoilers –
Scenes from a Marriage: E01- Innocence & Panic
The start of the first episode rushes us into the reality of entertainment as we walk with Jessica Chastain through the set and see her transitioning into her character Mira as she slips on the wedding ring. This particular opening of the show is not only reminiscent of the early 70s live shows but also how the intensity with which the show plans to break us needs this transitory pause for us to have our moment.
We hold Mira’s hand and enter what might seem normal but is definitely an awkward and invasive self-discovery of the couples’ attributes, gender roles and the relationship’s dynamic. We are visitors in the middle of Mira and Jonathan’s (played by Oscar Issac) marriage and the show makers cleverly yet subtly let us slip into their lives with past knowledge as we encounter the couple being interviewed by a research student.
We discover that Johnathan’s a Jewish professor of Philosophy and is a work-from-home father leaving him with the responsibilities of a homemaker. On the other hand, Mira is a tech executive who is the primary provider of the house. As an audience who is a part of the 21st century, the idea of swapping gender roles and normalizing them is what thrills us the most.
But what might look like a brave and modern step in a 10-year old marriage might not necessarily feel like that in reality. Chastin’s Mira is zoned out, uncomfortable and unhappy, something which everyone except her husband can see. Issac’s Johnathan lives in utopian theories, acting rational and patient but never truly is aware or honest about his emotions. The couple perfectly reflects on screen what a monogamous, long term marriage with repression and worn out passion looks like.
Scenes from a Marriage: A Brilliant Foundation
HBO Max has decided to release one episode a week to this five-episode long series. The reason is simple, we audience need to go through the desire and overwhelming emotions what Mira and Johnathan have gone through since their marriage turned grey.
However, this particular start feels like the silence before the storm as we can clearly see Mira and Johnathan slowly but surely losing sight of their “pleasant attributes” and becoming real. The devasting end with Mira in a clinic as white as snow covering her face and crying because she feels dark and awful from inside is just one of the many metaphors the story is trying to tell.
Even the end credits show us the ordinary suburban life and the insides of any regular house making us realize how everything seems normal and we never really know what is going on inside a person until we witness them behind closed doors.
Jessica Chastin and Oscar Issac are beautiful performers. We can understand that the show is only going to be about them and their marriage and not distract us with other subplots- a very Richard Linklater & Woody Allen move.
Scenes from a Marriage episode 1: The Final Verdict
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