TV review: Scenes From A Marriage
Scenes From A Marriage is painful to watch, in all senses of the word, good and bad.
If you thought two hours of the 2019 Netflix film Marriage Story was an endurance test, then brace yourself for the almost masochistic marathon that this five-episode HBO miniseries may put you through.
The emotional anguish and trauma on display, following the messy disintegration of a long union, is a lot to take in, especially when there is a child involved.
You will feel the despair, desperation, bitterness, hurt, regret, cruelty and even hope acutely - if you are so inclined to let yourself go there.
So be warned that the process of following this story is neither an easy nor pleasant one.
Like Marriage Story, Scenes From A Marriage will no doubt be similarly feted at awards season, especially for its captivating leads Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain as the ill-fated contemporary American couple Jonathan and Mira.
Both are at the top of their game here, delivering career-best performances.
And because there are no other characters to focus on, the show lives or dies by their chemistry. Fortunately, they have it in spades, as the pair were Juilliard schoolmates and share an off-screen friendship - and apparently such an intimate one that controversially spilled over onto the Venice Film Festival red carpet recently and caused quite the stir.
This adaptation of Ingmar Bergman's classic 1973 Swedish series of the same name unfolds like a teleplay, allowing the audience to eavesdrop on private conversations between these flawed individuals and exploring the full complexity of love, hatred, desire, monogamy, marriage and divorce.
The tension between Jonathan and Mira is so palpable in the pilot episode that by the time it ends with them making a crushing decision upon receiving unexpected news, you know things can only spiral down from there.
But as Scenes From A Marriage gradually unearths what makes Jonathan and Mira tick, you realise they cannot live with or without each other and are trapped in a cycle of unhealthy co-dependence and a shifting power play.
You may find yourself conflicted over whether you even like these two. But at the very least, you can relate to their problems, choices, behaviours and actions, because this is a toxic relationship for the ages.
And to sit through brutal hour upon hour of them fighting and making up, separating and reconciling, you wonder if this show is one worth preserving - and giving your time to.
TV SERIES: Scenes From A Marriage
STARRING: Oscar Isaac, Jessica Chastain
WRITER-DIRECTOR: Hagai Levi
THE SKINNY: Mira (Chastain) is an ambitious tech executive left unfulfilled by her marriage, and her husband Jonathan (Isaac) is an accommodating philosophy professor desperate to keep their relationship intact.
SHOWING: Premieres Sept 13 at 9am on HBO GO and HBO (StarHub TV Ch 601/Singtel TV Ch 420), with a same-day encore at 10pm on HBO.