Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain embroider their leading roles in this remake of Ingmar Bergman’s 1973 film.
There is a new candidate series for the best of the year on the air. We talk about Secrets of a marriage, the miniseries starring Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain that landed on HBO on September 13 and will premiere a new episode weekly for four more weeks. It was presented at the Venice Film Festival with the majority of favorable reviews but opening a polarized debate: either you love her or you are from the ‘team’ Bergman and you think it is something totally unnecessary. Still, everyone agrees that it deserves a viewing.
There are two aspects that stand out in the production. On the one hand, the interpretation of its two main actors. Isaac and Chastain show off the enormous complicity that exists between them and give life to a marriage that breaks down with a masterful performance. They are the biggest draw in the series.
On the other hand, there is the clever twist that the creator, Hagai Levi, puts on the film on which it is based: Secrets of a marriage, 1973. The fans of the Swedish director’s cinema will think that a ‘remake’ was not necessary and most of the criticisms are based on that comparison. However, they forget a very important detail. Nowadays, a movie like the original could not be released. Levi speaks very well of that facelift – and the reason for it.
You don’t need excuses to see the miniseries, but if you want them, here are two. We analyze how the chemistry has been built between the main actors and the new perspective in which its creator has worked.
The chemistry between Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac
The greatest asset of Secrets of a marriage is the performance of Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac and what they achieve by playing a couple. “The chemistry between them, from day one, was incredible,” says creator Hagai Levi in an interview with THAT ONE. We had already seen them together as a fictional couple in The most violent year (2014). On that occasion, under the direction of JC Chandor, they give life to a marriage with differences of opinions. This previous experience and their long friendship has helped them to put themselves in the shoes of Mira and Jonathan. That relationship helped the team a lot because Chastain came to the series when it was already in development.
“I was late for this project and, to be honest, the only reason I would do something like that is Oscar Isaac. I knew it was my safety net. I joined once, three days later, we were rehearsing. We have a similar way of working because we have been friends for 20 years and have greater trust than with anyone I have worked with.“explains Jessica Chastain to Collider.
“We joked that we were our acting coaches. There were certain scenes where he would say, ‘I just don’t get it. I don’t understand what he’s saying.’ I couldn’t remember the dialogue right before shooting. I had a lot of trouble with my lines. Normally, that’s because you don’t know what you’re doing. So, Oscar and I sat in my room and faced it. He asked me questions that helped me find him“, the actress confesses to said medium while her partner admits that it is the same thing that has happened to him.
Everyone on set brought their personal experience. The chemistry between Chastain and Isaac is original, and if that draws from the personal experiences of the team members, what results is a universal vision of marriage. “It wasn’t easy for all of us to go to hell and back. It was a very, very intense emotional and psychological experience,” says Levi. The lead actor adds: “Everybody felt very vulnerable. Team members would come and tell me about their breakups. It was very intimate and strange.”.
Renovating Bergman’s classic: an impossible but necessary task
The main stumbling block facing the miniseries Scenes from a marriage is that it is a ‘remake’ of Ingmar Bergman. Therefore, comparisons are unavoidable and, in this particular case, quite obnoxious. No matter the work of Hagai Levi, he will always have the chance to lose to the 1973 classic of the same title. But Levi has seen the only advantage: Berman’s account is out of date.
One of my main problems is that I felt like I didn’t like the characters in the original anymore. He felt he was an old-fashioned man, a moron chauvinist. I couldn’t identify myself. And she begins the series very weak, like a dependent woman without security in herself. I couldn’t put a woman like that on TV today
To solve this conflict, the creator changed the roles. An absolute success. “One day, my editor and I started reading the original script by changing the gender of the characters. Suddenly the same text felt totally different. That was the point where we began to understand that it could be done with the same story but with a new perspective, “continues Levi. What she achieved with this change was a series that is right for the times. She has a prolific career in the field of Therefore, the chores of the house and the care of the children fall more on him.
It is not the only change that the creator has introduced so that the miniseries does not squeak so much. Levi is contrary to Bergman in his vision of marriage and love. “He wanted to say, very explicitly: ‘Marriage kills love’. The ‘remake’ says: ‘Marriage is not easy, but separation is also very, very traumatic,” he reveals in THAT ONE.
And what does SensaCine think of ‘Secrets of a marriage’?
We have talked about the chemistry between the protagonists and the renewal of a classic, but what does Alejandro G. Calvo, critic par excellence of SensaCine? G. Calvo praises the performance of Chastain and Isaac – how not? – but remains on the side of the Bergman lovers. “Abyssal drama of a couple in crisis, obviously, they lose by KO in front of their referent -in addition: Bergman hated the human being, his characters were cruel to the core and rejoiced when they caused pain; something that here is quite unlikely to happen- , but the same if the viewer does not know the previous work, he manages to connect with the pain in the open channel of some characters as fragile as, deep down, we are all“, ditch in his chronicle.
The first episode of Secrets of a marriage It is now available on HBO Spain. Then enjoy a new chapter every Monday.
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