Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac bring raw intensity to a flawed ‘Scenes From a Marriage’

The five-part sequence employs an attention-grabbing and considerably puzzling system, in every episode displaying the actors earlier than filming begins underneath Covid protocols, strolling by way of the set surrounded by masked crew members. It’s a manner of building the theatrical qualities of the presentation, though other than appreciating the additional diploma of problem, basically an pointless system.

The premiere then proceeds to introduce Mira (Chastain) and Jonathan (Isaac), married for nearly a decade with a younger daughter.

The introduction comes by the use of an interview with a grad scholar engaged on her thesis, exposing tensions inside the marriage regardless of their seemingly outward happiness. He’s an instructional who has lapsed in strict adherence to his Jewish religion, whereas she’s a profitable businesswoman whose profession — extra profitable than his — has taken priority over his.

Levi considerably contemporizes the plot, however the strains and stresses related to sustaining a marriage — and doubtlessly ending one — are all on show, as data drips out concerning the relationship and the main points behind Mira’s half-spoken sentences and pained expressions.

The performances are raw and starkly offered. In sports activities phrases, Isaac and Chastain depart all of it on the sector — and did their half to promote the present with a viral red-carpet moment on the Venice Film Festival — in what is basically a two-character piece with a few cameos, resembling Corey Stoll and Nicole Beharie as one other couple (with their very own vital points) that comes over for dinner.

Where “Scenes From a Marriage” falters all through is within the wild nature of the swings in Mira and Jonathan’s interactions and conduct, making hairpin turns from civil to hostile to sexual and again once more. It’s onerous to get misplaced within the drama when the dialogue and conditions are this stagy and manicured.

Like HBO’s latest revival of “In Treatment,” the confined motion and minimal solid makes this a significantly shrewd addition to the lineup strictly as a logistical matter, one that features Bergman’s son, director Daniel Bergman, among the many government producers together with the 2 stars.

Still, the art-house credentials of the title apart, “Scenes From a Marriage” has the conspicuous really feel of a kind of self-importance tasks through which premium networks and streaming companies permit expertise to indulge, with the marquee worth of the casting greater than sufficient to justify the cube roll.

At its core the sequence provides the not-quite-revelatory reminder that marriage will be onerous and unraveling one tends to be even tougher, particularly when youngsters are concerned.

Nevertheless, it is attainable to admire the artistry and onerous work that went into this manufacturing with out feeling really engaged by it, both emotionally or intellectually. In that sense, the “We’re just putting on a show” framing may need served a goal, although not essentially in the best way supposed.

“Scenes From a Marriage” premieres Sept. 12 at 9 p.m. ET on HBO, which, like CNN, is a unit of WarnerMedia.

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