Hagai Levi's adaptation echoes Bergman 's original passion, but that does not argue for a new version.
If the near future of television is made up of endless reinterpretations and remakes of IP - no more superheroes, no more "Star Wars", a new "Fantastic island", a new " Years of wonders - perhaps it was inevitable that the trend would turn to l One of the sustainable supermarkets of the 20th century: Ingmar Bergman.
"Scenes from a wedding", 1973 six-part series for Swedish television (later edited into a film), was a slow, subtle work that caused a stir. After a couple (Erland Josephson and Liv Ullmann, Bergman's former romantic partner) through their marriage breakdown and beyond, "Scenes " has inspired enough real-life soul-searching that It was even credited with an increase in the rate of
Like many dissolved marriages, he also left descendants. More directly, there are the talkative love dissection films of Woody Allen, Richard Linklater and Noah Baumbach, among others. In a more diffuse way , you can see traces of it in TV series that delve into relationships and psychology, from " trentesomething to the recent season "Master of None ", "Moments in Love ".
Hagai Levi has produced works in this vein for years, including the " Israeli BeTipul ”and its Americanization,“ In Treatment, ”as well as Showtime's“ The Affair, ”which applied Bergman's pathos to a crime mystery. Now the artistic child returns to the primitive "Scenes". The five-part update of the seriesLevi's e, which premieres Sunday on HBO, is a moving study of intimacy that reminds us of the power of the original but without really making a case for an update.
Bourgeois Sweden is here replaced by a bourgeois Boston- district neighborhood; Josephson and Ullmann by Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac; and the scenic rawness of Bergman's production through the subdued lighting and aesthetics of the design catalog of upper-middle-class cable dramas.
Dressing aside, Levi's major change is roughly swapping the gender roles of leaders. Corporate Product Manager Mira (Chastain) is the highest paid half of the couple, advancing in her career and harboring doubts about marriage. Jonathan (Isaac) is content to play a bigger role in their daughter's education while working mostly from home as aacademic.
As in the original, the new "Scenes" features the couple having them interviewed, this time by a researcher doing a relationship study monogamous. In Bergman's version, the husband is smug while the Ullmann character is reluctant.
This time the man talks a lot again - some things never change! - but the dynamics are different. Jonathan seems to be working to convince not only the interviewer but also himself that he is enlightened and self-aware, that he values their marriage while having the right intellectual skepticism of marriage, that their partnership is, in the words of the researcher, a "success". Mira's silence is less a sign of a power relationship than a signal that she has come to different conclusions.
This question of "success", a strangehe colloquially meritocratic way of talking about love and sex looms over the series. Is success a stable cooperative team effort, two good careers, parenting and home improvement plans involved?
Besides, is a marriage that ends necessarily a failure? Does a marriage ever really end - is marriage, in the broad sense, a state of being that continues even if you separate? Is it something that exists between two characters, or is it a third character, with a life of its own? Or is it the single character, binding two people together in a complex organism even when they are apart?
Bergman's series probed these questions, just like Levi's, in the same way and on many of the same story rhythms, with skill if not wild originality.
The cinq episodes are not actually titled "Denial ", "Anger ", "Negotiation ", "Depression " and "Acceptance ", but they cover the stages of marital grief in this way. Levi's s (two co-written with Amy Herzog) borrow lines from the Bergman original, but the vocals are distinct. The installments are like a game, usually involving a handful of scenes that
Levi is a skilled emotional choreographer, and Chastain and Isaac are the dancers you want to perform the steps. Jonathan is a guy Isaac plays well, a thoughtful intellectual with a "need for moral superiority" who has a lot of resentment and family-religious angst behind that lush beard. Chastain's Mira is both more expressive and more controlled; she feels lessguilty of wanting more from life and love, but she's more volatile than she lets the world see.
When they get fight, they fight explosively; a confrontation becomes uncomfortably physical. Their sexual attraction to muscle memory is quite believable. (Remember: they're played by Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain.) Their connection is felt in tiny moments, like when Jonathan prepares a suitcase for Mira, both an act of love and aggression.
Everything is well observed and exquisitely performed, yet this "Scenes " seems to have challenged Tolstoy by finding an unhappy family who are unhappy in a very familiar way. THEGender swapping may say something about husbands and wives redefining their roles, but television has had half a century of heterosexual marriage stories since Bergman to solve them.
Another small difference is that Jonathan and Mira's daughter, Ava (Lily Jane), is a bigger presence - both on screen and in conversation - than the kids. in the original. This may reflect the more practical style of this class of American parents compared to the Swedish free range of the 1970s, but it also makes them a kind of externalization of marriage, connecting the couple into one.
Even if you haven't seen the original series (streaming on the Criterion channel ), none of these dynamics will seem very new.velle. And if so, this "Scenes" looks less like a reimagining than a revival of the scholarly scene: movie stars spend a few weeks doing Ibsen at a theater festival in summer.
This feeling is only heightened by a distracting framing device, which breaks the fourth wall showing us Chastain and Isaac, like Chastain and Isaac , on set in the middle of a Covid-era production, surrounded by lights and teams wearing masks. I'm sure there is a thoughtful reason that would look good on the page, but in practice it's a bucket of cold water on a story whose goal is body temperature privacy.
Of course, "Watch these talented stars in this chic production " has already been a hit. Whether that's enough for you can determine if you call it a "Scenes from a wedding " front wrap.