In the third episode of Scenes from a Marriage, Jonathan reads his therapy assigned morning pages, written in the third person to his ex-wife Mira in the characteristically calm, low and soothing pace he uses to sing to their 5-year-old daughter before bedtime in the third act. He reads to her about discovering the source of his inability to be truly present in their marriage. When he describes Mira as one of the first people whom he feels truly sees him, it works on her like a dysfunctional aphrodisiac. She is then moved to initiate physical intimacy with him on the carpet of the living room in the house they once shared. In an overhead shot where Mira rolls over on top of him, we see Jonathan’s eyes open, revealing his internal emotional struggle as they writhe together on the floor, overcome by this reignited passion. It’s consensual for a brief nail biting few seconds. And then Jonathan tells her they need to stop, that this is not good for him.
For Jonathan, formerly a strict orthodox Jew for whom the better part of his formative years as a young man were spent being separated from women and who appears to take ritual, commitment, and parental responsibility very seriously, the sustainability of his marriage to Mira and the thing that held it together never seemed to just be about sex and physical passion. But this is just my read from having only watched the 3 episodes available. It’s hard for me not to adore and want to cuddle every bit of Oscar Isaac’s screen performance. He never rises to anger without reason. He’s giving. He’s responsible almost to a fault. And are we supposed to not notice that Jonathan is hot dad central? I mean that man is settled as fuck! He’s not going anywhere! LOL! But maybe this is part of why Mira felt like she couldn’t take another second with him. Perhaps his steadfastness and emotional repression, shed too bright a light on her selfish, unstable and self centered behavior.
All I kept thinking about was how she said she wasn’t attracted to Jonathan anymore in Ep2 just before storming out to spend 3 months in Israel with her lover, Poli. And now here they are rolling around on the floor together and she tells him she never stopped loving or wanting him. Sooooo…try as I might I really can’t find a shred of empathy for homegirl. She’s messy af. And if Mira is written to be a deeply frustrating character then Jessica Chastain is doing a hell of a job.
Levi Hagai is not a director I’m familiar with but I do like the way he takes the viewer through a series of shifting and intense emotions in such a short amount of time. Whenever it feels as if Mira and Jonathan have made a solid and intimate connection somewhere, everything crumbles again under the weight of tremendous, unresolved pain.
In the scene near the end of this episode we see Jonathan singing to their daughter who wakes up in the night while he and Mira are arguing. We watch him walk her back to her bed while asking Mira to hold on until he comes back. He’s really asking her to hold on to the hope that they can salvage their life together. All I can think while watching him sing, is how present he sounds, how fully present he is for his daughter, while his relationship with her mother balances on a precipice.
And for Mira…I feel nothing.
Not yet anyway.