Fleishman Is in Trouble (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️) is a modern marriage story told from the perspective of Toby (Jesse Eisenberg), a divorced father of two whose ex-wife drops their children at his place at 4 am one night and disappears. What follows is a rollercoaster of events that jumps back and forth in time to peace together, a 15-year-long relationship slowly crumbling under the crushing weight of high-pressure NYC reality.
Rachel (Claire Danes) is a career-driven talent agent who desperately wants to be accepted by Manhattan’s private school parents group to ensure a promising future for their children. For her, Toby’s 300k salary he earns as a hepatologist in an esteemed hospital is merely pitiful. Toby, on the other hand, never feels comfortable amidst people they call friends, and after years of arguments and misaligned priorities, he finally asks for a divorce. His bitter recounts of the events to his recently reunited college friends bring only a one-sided account of the relationship. Still, only around ⅔ through, we finally discover what happened to Rachel. (available on Disney +)
Taffy Brodesser-Akner fatefully adapted it from her bestselling novel published in 2019 under the same title. And she delivered a quirky and witty satire on the screen with a few LOL moments. Still, as in the book, only the second part adds nuance and depth to what would otherwise be a one-sided portrayal of a dismantling marriage told from a man’s perspective. Deeply woven are the threads of class anxiety, depression, identity crises, and women’s aspirations to be part of an affluent, money-driven society ruled by privileged white men. How could it ever end well?
Inevitably, Fleishmans reminded me of Mira and Jonathan from Scenes from a Marriage (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️), marvellously played by Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac. Hagai Levi, known for In Treatment and The Affair, adapted Scenes from a 1973 TV series written and directed by Ingmar Bergman under the same title (⭐️⭐️⭐️). As both versions offer a heartbreaking portrayal of the end of a long relationship, Chastain and Isaac’s realism gave me shivers.
Their performance is so powerful you cannot but feel for their characters as they try to navigate a long and painful separation process after Mira decides to leave Jonathan. Deep down, you know that one day it can happen to you, and it gives you chills.
It is beautifully shot, intimate, claustrophobic, and a relentless struggle filled with fear, contempt and love in equal parts. The series, like no other, amazingly captures how, over time, the dynamic between two people changes and the power shifts offering one of the most potent series about human emotions. (available on NowTV)
On the theme of relationships, I can’t not mention a little gem of a series I stumbled upon on Netflix last month. The Time It Takes (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️) follows Lina (Nadia de Santiago) and her journey after she separates from the love of her life, Nico (Álvaro Cervantes). The Time It Takes could be a film, but the fact that the creators divided the story into ten roughly ten-minute episodes makes it so much more compelling. Each is split into the time in the present and the past. As Lina goes through the stages of grief after the breakup, she spends less time in the past brooding over her relationship with Nico and more time in the present trying to move forward with her life. It is a beautiful journey of an independent young woman as she rediscovers herself and heals her broken heart.