Marriage it’s a really amazing job.
It is a study of a middle-aged couple in extreme levels of ordinariness.
But writer/director Stefan Golaszewski (Mom, him and her) also tells its story through the cracks, in the small moments of daily negotiation and compromise.
There is no cheering incident, instead it begins with an argument over jacket potatoes as Ian (Sean Bean) and Emma (Nicola Walker) wrap up their holiday. An inordinate amount of screen time is devoted to a discussion of potatoes as we establish this lower-middle-class couple in their 50s.
Ian has been fired and has yet to find his new purpose in life. Emma has an office job with condescending co-workers, but she tries to free herself from the burden of those around her.
Both are parents to Jessica (Chantelle Alle), an adopted black daughter, who is bringing home her new boyfriend Adam (Jack Holden). There are hints of an earlier tragedy for the couple.
Ian is becoming a bit of a dinosaur in his own world and is having a hard time connecting with his daughter without saying the wrong thing.
Emma is also resented by her elderly father (James Bolam) who snaps, “How can you honestly ask me if I enjoyed it when it was you who abandoned me?”
Several scenes are shot with a wide angle lens, as Golaszewski highlights lone figures in vast spaces. But they’re full of truth, like the characters who stop to pick up trash and throw it in a trash can – who does that on TV?
The scenes often feel inconsequential, like moments in time juxtaposed against each other, but the sum of the parts makes for a satisfying whole.
Performances by Sean Bean and Nicole Walker and beautifully understated to the point of seeming impromptu (I suspect it’s completely scripted). Sometimes I was reminded of the naturalistic work of Mike Leigh in pieces like Secrets and lies.
A scene with Ian attending a local gym and chatting up a receptionist brilliantly captures a collision of worlds and intents, where old ways are misunderstood by new ways. They underscore Ian’s diminishing purpose and understanding in an ever-changing modern society.
For some it will seem like a story waiting to happen. Or how it could be a drama if the cameras followed Glasses boxers away from the sofa – quite ordinary. Shopping. Waiting in queue. Dishwasher packaging. Brush your teeth.
Still Marriage it also brings attention to how two humans connect and depend on each other, celebrating true love in a dichotomy with true frustration/fear/boredom.
And you can study two superb actors by creating a three-dimensional dynamic that could be as real as your own parents.
The Wedding airs Saturdays at 8:30pm on ABC.