Films showing the reality of marriage- gcfrng

Films showing the reality of marriage- gcfrng

On-screen representations of conflicting relationships reflect a changing society, writes Caryn James, like a remake of the classic television series Scenes from a Marriage.
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Some of the best movies and TV series today are about the worst marriages. “You hated me!” the husband from the brilliant movie Marriage Story (2019) yells at his future ex-wife, who yells at him: “You hated me!”

“I hate your face,” says a man in this year’s funny and heartwarming comedy drama Together. The woman he lives with compares it to cancer and diarrhea.

And in the exciting new HBO series Scenes from a Marriage, a remake of Ingmar Bergman’s 1973 television classic, the wife is about to walk out the door for good. Screaming and pleading, her irate husband Jonathan (Oscar Isaac) says they should discuss her relationship “until we figure out how to fix it.” Mira (Jessica Chastain) responds, “I’m not attracted to you anymore, how do you fix that?”

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Big howling cathartic plots molded by explosive performances are a hallmark of this distinctly 21st-century cinematic remake of toxic marriages. With clear, penetrating eyes on relationships that have rotted, they reflect a time when divorce is common and long-term relationships don’t always include marriage. And they often depend on how the balance of power between men and women has shifted, at least to some extent, towards equality. In Noah Baumbach’s eloquent and nuanced Marriage Story, the wife (Scarlett Johansson) leaves New York to take charge of her own career in Los Angeles. The new Scenes of a Marriage change the genres of Bergman’s series. This time it is the wife who is cheating, not her husband. Gender changes do not indicate that women, or men, are to blame, simply that the films reflect society itself.

In noir films like Double Indemnity (pictured), a wife would attempt to escape an unhappy marriage by plotting to have her husband killed (Credit: Alamy)
In noir films like Double Indemnity (pictured), a wife would attempt to escape an unhappy marriage by plotting to have her husband killed (Credit: Alamy)

In the old days, on screen as in life, unhappy married couples had limited options, all bad. A man could cheat and probably get away with it, because the divorce was a scandal. A woman could still be miserable. She could have her husband killed, as in the film noir classics Double Indemnity (1944) and The Postman Always Calls Twice (1946), which must have fulfilled millions of female fantasies. Or she could commit suicide, jumping in front of a train like Anna Karenina or swallowing poison like Emma Bovary, 19th century literary heroines who have been the source of endless cinematic treatments. The steady stream of Annas, from Greta Garbo in 1935 to Keira Knightly in 2012, still resonates with the frustrated wives of the 20th century. The outlook for an unhappy wife is bleak if a romantic getaway means sexless interludes with a man at a train station, as in the very popular Encounter Brief (1945).

New wave

A new kind of movie about marriage began to appear in the 1970s when movies caught up with the sexual revolution of the 1960s and divorce lost its scandalous tinge. A good example is An Unmarried Woman (1978). Jill Clayburgh’s character is standing on a sidewalk as her husband leaves her. “I’m in love with someone else,” she says, crying with self-pity. But she finds a new independent life and a romance with an artist (Alan Bates). It is second wave feminism, but in particular the husband still makes the decisions.

The same is true in Bergman’s Intimate Psychological Marriage Scenes (also released in a shorter film version) that follows a marriage breakdown and its aftermath. Liv Ullman’s character actually has a career as a divorce attorney (heavy irony). But her husband (Erland Josephson), a teacher, dominates the house. When he leaves her for a younger woman, she is distraught for months. But when he wants to get back into marriage, she has gotten over it. Paying equal attention to each spouse’s trajectory, with tumultuous discussions and manipulations on both sides, Bergman’s series casts a long shadow over today’s toxic marriage stories, with their balance of power, complaints about sex, or lack of him and, often, the infidelity that is not the basic problem, but the theme that leads

sodes, it begins by observing Mira and Jonathan’s apparently stable marriage and charts their fiery break-up and sexy, contentious post-divorce encounters. The gender reversal is not a stunt, but a detail that adds a contemporary edge. Mira is a successful tech executive and Jonathan a professor, with a lower income and primary responsibility for the care of their young daughter. Those realistic 21st-Century changes allow us to enter their world and emotional lives more fully.

They say deliberately hurtful things that might be unforgivable. But they are also relatable things we have all said, or wanted to say, or knew we’d never dare say out loud
We are led to see Mira as selfish and manipulative – not because she wants to leave but because of the heartless way she does it. Fair warning: this is a spoiler for anyone who has not seen the Bergman version. Reversing the original, here the wife walks in one night and announces she is leaving the next day with the younger man she has been having an affair with. It’s the shocked, wounded husband who pleads with her to stay.

Chastain and Isaac bring raw, visceral emotion to Mira and Jonathan’s arguments, which propel the story. “You’re a narcissist,” Mira tells him. “How are you not ashamed?” he asks her. As in all the toxic marriage films, they say deliberately hurtful things that might be unforgivable. But they are also relatable things we have all said, or wanted to say, or knew we’d never dare say out loud. It’s cathartic to watch, often in exaggerated form, arguments most of us either live through or try hard to avoid in reality.

Soon after it appeared in Sweden, Bergman’s Scenes from a Marriage was held responsible for an increased divorce rate in the country. That may be myth, but the series’ influence definitely pops up in 21st-Century relationship films, sometimes in explicit homages. Mia Hansen-Løve’s elegant, playful new Bergman Island explores a fraught, less disastrous but decidedly 21st-Century marriage between two filmmakers, Chris and Tony (Vicky Krieps and Tim Roth). When an artists’ residency takes them to Faro, the island where Bergman lived and worked, they are assigned to stay in the house where he filmed the series. “You do realize we’re going to sleep in the bed where they shot Scenes from a Marriage,” Chris says. “We have to maybe sleep in the other bedroom.”

Baumbach wrote Marriage Story after his divorce from Jennifer Jason Leigh – his earlier film The Squid and the Whale was inspired by his parents’ divorce (Credit: Alamy)
Baumbach wrote Marriage Story after his divorce from Jennifer Jason Leigh – his earlier film The Squid and the Whale was inspired by his parents’ divorce de él (Credit: Alamy)

In Marriage Story, Johansson and Adam Driver are Nicole and Charlie, an actress and a director working together in what is assuredly his theater company. A framed magazine article about them on the wall of their Brooklyn home is headlined “Scenes from a Marriage”, a phrase that is never a good omen.

Baumbach’s eloquent screenplay starts with a description each spouse wrote about the other. Among Nicole’s great qualities, Charlie says, “She could have stayed in LA and been a movie star but she gave that up to do theater with me in New York.” There’s the beginning of the problem, or at least an early warning sign. Part of the brilliance of the film is that Nicole’s early choices of her are both believable – we all do crazy things in love, sometimes reconfiguring ourselves – and retro. After she moves to Los Angeles with their son de ella to make a TV show, she gives her shark of a lawyer (Laura Dern) a long explanation of why the marriage broke down. “I had never really come alive for myself,” she says, but ends with the droll kicker, “also, I think he slept with the stage manager, Maryann.”

Nicole and Charlie’s fierce, hateful argument after they split might be the film’s most memorable scene. He calls her “a hack” actress. She says: “You gaslighted me.” They claim they physically repulsed each other during the marriage, and – maybe even worse – accuse each other of having their parents’ worst traits. It’s the kind of fight there’s no coming back from, and totally in line with broken-marriage films today.

Emergency exit

Middle-class characters don’t have exclusive rights to toxic marriages on screen. In Derek Cianfrance’s heart-breaking, chronologically-fragmented Blue Valentine (2010), Michelle Williams plays Cindy, a harried nurse and mother. Ryan Gosling is her husband, Dean, drinking beer in the morning before his job painting houses. But they have the same impossible-to-resolve marital issues, the same soul-killing arguments. Cianfrance begins his story of him at a low point in the marriage, then gracefully moves back and forth to earlier moments when Dean was charming and Cindy was enchanted by him. But as they settle into a mundane life, he drinks de ella and she becomes exasperated. When he shows up drunk and abusive at her job de ella, she is the one who ends things. “I

‘m done. I’m done being angry like this. I’m done having you drunk like this, “she yells, and starts slapping him. They are both in pain, but unlike women of an earlier era, she has a way to move forward.

Critic Roger Ebert wrote of Blue Valentine: “I’ve read reviews saying Cianfrance isn’t clear about what went wrong as they got from there to here. Is anybody?” (Credit: Alamy)
Critic Roger Ebert wrote of Blue Valentine: “I’ve read reviews saying Cianfrance isn’t clear about what went wrong as they got from there to here. Is anybody?” (Credit: Alamy)

The bracing Together reveals just how timely and adaptable today’s toxic relationship dramas can be. James McAvoy and Sharon Horgan are an unmarried couple with a 10-year-old son (they are the only three actors on screen) trapped in their house during the Covid lockdown. Directed by Stephen Daldry (The Hours) and written by the playwright Dennis Kelly (Matilda the Musical), the film turns its reduced scale to its advantage with a trenchant view of a relationship that was already in distress. As the unnamed characters talk to the camera and to each other, we learn the causes of their anger and discontent. He is a successful business owner and she is a human rights worker, so he has money but she has the moral high ground. They loathe the idea of ​​sex with each other.

As months pass, the pandemic and grief infuse their lives. They astonish themselves by starting to have sex again. Meaningless, they say, but very good sex. Their arguments are acerbic, sometimes funny and often brutal, as the actors smoothly overcome the artifice of talking to the camera.

By the end, McAvoy’s character makes a discovery that feels like a revelation to him and that she harshly guesses he stole from a song. He says he has hated her for so long, but now, “I think there’s a chance that we’ve somehow ended up in this place that is the love that exists beyond hate. And the love that exists beyond hate – not a lot of people get to go there. ” He’s wrong about that second part. On screen in the 21st Century, they often do.

Scenes from a Marriage premieres on HBO on 12 September.

Together is currently streaming in the UK, is in cinemas in the US, and begins streaming in the US on 14 September.

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