A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Scenes from a Marriage is a remake of Ingmar Bergman's 1973 Swedish miniseries of the same name, focusing in on a married couple who grapple with their emotions together and separately as they navigate life in their upscale New England town. Action and dialogue is frank and realistic: characters are informed exactly how a chemical abortion will play out; a non-monogamous married couple discusses the effect their decision has on their relationship. Expect same- and opposite-sex kissing, dating, flirting. Characters drink at dinner and one character blames an asthma attack on drinking too much; characters also get expansive and argumentative after drinking. Language and cursing includes "f--king," "f--k," "bulls--t." Main characters are White and upper middle class; they live luxurious lives free of material needs. Side characters are diverse in terms of race and ethnicity, but not wealth, body type, or social class. Characterizations are complex, realistic; people make mistakes and learn from them as well as suffering consequences. The slowness of the action and subtlety of themes makes this drama more suitable for adults and older teens.
What's the story?
Based on Ingmar Bergman's 1973 Swedish miniseries of the same name, SCENES FROM A MARRIAGE stars Jessica Chastain as Mira and Oscar Isaac as Jonathan, a married couple grappling with their relationship, parenthood, monogamy, and career, sometimes in harmony, sometimes not. As we watch them move through their ordinary upper-class New England lives, we begin to understand that this is a couple in a quiet crisis that's no less traumatic just because it's utterly ordinary.
Is it any good?
Beautifully acted, shot, and composed, this remake of the 1973 Bergman Swedish miniseries is high-quality, potent, grown-up drama that takes its time allowing its storylines to spool out. Not all viewers will appreciate the languid pace: the characters and their dialogue feel realistic in ways both good and bad. "Um"s litter their speech, characters talk over each other, they stammer and start to say one thing, but wind up saying something quite different. For viewers with patience, it's positively mesmerizing. It's clear from Mira and Jonathan's first moments together onscreen that this is a marriage in which things are being left unsaid; just what those things are comes slowly, but the slow reveal feels like real life instead of a director teasing us.
Chastain and Isaac do have potent chemistry with each other, and their relationship feels lived-in. There's a wonderful moment in the first episode in which the married couple brushes their teeth together after a hectic dinner party. The side of each sink is littered with cosmetics, his, hers; Jonathan, tellingly, spits without checking first that his wife isn't in the splashback zone; Mira's lips are tight around her brush, holding back the things she'd like to say if she were up for the chaos they would cause. In these moments, Scenes from a Marriage reveals its downbeat but painfully real message: Marriage sure is a great way to kill passion and romance.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how sex tends to be portrayed in the media. Do you think many real people are as sexually active as many movie and TV show characters? What are the consequences of sexual habits dramatized in Scenes from a Marriage?
How does Scenes from a Marriage communicate how Mira and Isaac feel about their marriage? What information does the show give you besides what the characters literally say to each other? How is the inner life of characters revealed without it being literally said aloud?
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