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Author Topic: Marriage reviews  (Read 1226 times)

Offline patch

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Marriage reviews
« on: August 09, 2022, 02:28:29 AM »
Marriage review: Sean Bean and Nicola Walker drama redefines romance
The two stars light up the screen in this understated gem.

There's a moment early on in Marriage when Nicola Walker's Emma brings Sean Bean's Ian a meal with chips bought in an airport cafe. He wanted a jacket potato but as there weren't any visibly being served, she admits that she didn't ask for one. Ian pauses and just for a split second annoyance flashes across his face. He then smiles and moves on with the conversation.

In any other series you might assume this was a quirk, an acting choice which adds to the character but not the story. But in Marriage, the characters are the story. Sure enough this potato/chips row spirals off in a funny and utterly relatable bickering sequence as the couple board the plane, delightfully setting the tone for all four episodes.

However, it's the next moment which truly sets up what Marriage is all about. Their spat comes to an end as the plane takes off and a nervous Ian reaches across the aisle for his wife's hand. He doesn't need to reach far – her hand is already there waiting, and he grasps on to it for reassurance. It's understated, endearing and in a surprising way, utterly romantic.

From there Marriage takes us on a tour of Ian and Emma's lives, set over a period of days around their wedding anniversary. Ian has found himself recently jobless and potters about at home, going to the occasional interview and spending time at the gym. Meanwhile Emma attends a work conference and grapples with her sleazy, patronising younger boss (Henry Lloyd-Hughes).

These are the moments Marriage revolves around, but the series is never so much about what's happening but who it's happening to and how it affects them. In less-accomplished hands that could be a recipe for disaster, an aimless act of self-indulgence playing out over four deathly-dull hours.

Thankfully, the series has writer Stefan Golaszewski behind it, a maestro at this sort of intricate character work from his previous series' Mum and Him & Her. Meanwhile, in front of the camera, you couldn't ask for a better pair than Bean and Walker.

Both actors are renowned for a reason and here they have never been better, with a chemistry that is completely believable. At no point do you question their relationship or the love they have for one another, despite the little things that get in the way – their frustrations feel real, as do their losses and their hopes.

Bean's Ian is mild, unassuming, occasionally neurotic but entirely good natured. Internally he's dealing with two losses – that of his late mother and of his job, which we recognise brought structure to his days. To combat the loneliness he tries to make small-talk with the attendant behind the desk at the gym, but she finds him off-putting and questions his intentions.

Meanwhile Emma deals with greater responsibility, both towards her own work ambitions and also to her family, whether that's Ian, their adopted daughter Jessica (Chantelle Alle) or her father (James Bolam).

Both feel the weight of the world but in entirely different ways – Emma is more assertive, while Ian attempts to constantly put on a brave face. In spite of, or perhaps because of, a shared trauma in their past, neither wants to admit their fears to one another without a little push, and once that push is made it can be positive and affirming, while at other times it leads to a heartbreaking emotional reckoning.

It's the small moments between the couple which breathe life into the series – the almost whispering way Ian talks to Emma in their moments alone, the supportive embraces. They're a tactile couple, as we're reminded that this is far more than just a lifelong friendship, or even a partnership.

It's right that Marriage should prioritise its central pair but that doesn't mean the supporting characters are thinly drawn. Jessica gets her own relationship story to contend with, while even those characters who could be deemed 'villains' are given their due. There's no excusing the bad behaviour, only an attempt to explain it. The whole series comes from a place of intense empathy, so it's only right that that extends beyond our central duo.

It's important to say that the series isn't gooey, sentimental or moralising, it's just sincere. This is slice of life drama at its finest, with characters that are so richly drawn, comedy that is so relatable and heartache that is so piercing that you come away feeling as though you have lived an entire, rounded life with these characters.

It's naturalistic throughout, meaning while there's one musical refrain which plays at the start and end of each episode, otherwise it's a sparse soundscape. Visually the series also keeps things to the point. There's no thrills or trickery – it trusts in the performances enough to let them breathe.

The biggest testament to the series is that across its entire four hour runtime, it's never, ever boring. Every look is like gaining a further piece of the puzzle as we work out what makes these people tick. Every stammer or awkward joke helps to illuminate something we didn't know about the way these two interact with one another.

When you boil it down to its component parts, Marriage is just an intoxicatingly engaging love story, redefining TV romance for introverts and realists. There's no grand declarations of love and the series is all the better for it. If you believe in the old adage that it's better to show, not tell, then Marriage comes out with flying colours.

Marriage will air on BBC One and BBC iPlayer on Sunday 14th August at 9pm.

Marriage on BBC One review: Nicola Walker and Sean Bean are a pleasure to watch
This is a nuanced and delicately calibrated work by the creator of Mum, though missing that show’s bittersweet wit

In this four-part series starring a wonderfully careworn Nicola Walker and Sean Bean, writer and director Stefan Golaszewski steps away from the comic arena where he made his name. Marriage is a meticulously understated study of the struggles and small moments of cheer in the life of a middle-aged couple, married for 27 years, and mostly living lives of quiet desperation in a nameless regional town.

Like Golaszewski’s sitcoms Mum and Him and Her, Marriage focuses on the everyday and the humdrum. The clothes, the couple’s home, even the colour palette of the sky are drab. As in Mum, the words that are not spoken carry more weight than what’s said aloud. Golaszewski, 42, has great empathy for characters one, two or three decades older.

It begins in a Spanish airport lounge, with an angry row over a jacket potato that is clearly about something else entirely. Their holiday has been a much-needed break for Emma (Walker) and Ian (Bean), and gradually we find out why. Ian recently lost his mother and his job. Emma has a difficult relationship with her truculent father, Gerry (James Bolam), who may be suffering from some form of dementia.

Her ambivalent attitude to her job in a solicitors’ office is further complicated by the hint of a relationship that is not entirely professional with her boss Jamie (Henry Lloyd-Hughes), either in the past or in the future. Halfway through the first episode Golaszewski drops a quiet bombshell, showing the couple weeping at their infant son’s grave. Shortly after that, we meet their daughter Jessica (Chantelle Alle) who is black and presumably adopted.

Over an excruciatingly awkward dinner Jess, an aspiring singer, introduces Ian and Emma to her new producer boyfriend Adam, who seems worryingly controlling. Earlier, Gerry had suggested that Ian “controls” Emma, though it looks like she’s the more assertive and confident one in their partnership.

Tensions surge and then recede: one of the most pleasing aspects of Marriage is its depiction of the affection that survives years of threadbare underwear, conversations shouted from separate rooms, and arguments over the relative cost of cashews and peanuts. Golaszewski also gives us glimpses of the wider lives of supporting characters: the gym receptionist who is about to embark on her own married life and is creeped out by Ian (he may have an awkward crush or might just be seeking human connection); the female manager who is involved in a car prang before giving Ian a hostile job interview.

The strain of life seems closer to the surface in Walker’s Emma, a stoic expectation of disappointment etched on her face. Bean, meanwhile, subtly suggests the way loss has diminished Ian. He’s always faffing around making tea, chuntering platitudes, forgetting to unlock the car for Emma.

It’s a pleasure to see two such unflashy actors paired up on a minimalist narrative. Bolam is as good as ever and Alle adds a dose of brightness. This is a nuanced and delicately calibrated piece of work but occasionally, I confess, I yearned for the bittersweet wit of Golaszewski’s Mum.

The first episode of Marriage airs on BBC One on Sunday 14 August at 9pm, with all episodes available on iPlayer shortly after

« Last Edit: August 09, 2022, 03:21:28 AM by patch »

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Re: Marriage reviews
« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2022, 11:52:24 PM »
Marriage – The DVDfever Review – BBC drama – Sean Bean, Nicola Walker

Marriage centres around a couple who, as you’d imagine, have been married for a long time, namely Ian (Sean Bean – Time) and Emma (Nicola Walker from The Last Train), even down to bickering over the airport’s burger meal.

Firstly, she’s critical of the fact she has to pay for individual ketchup sachets, and how you can never open them, either. Meanwhile, he’s annoyed he can’t get a potato because they only sell chips, and even more so, because he wanted her to actually ask if they did them, and she didn’t because it was clear they only did chips… but why couldn’t she just ask if they could do one? Oh, let it go!

In fact, similarly, when my Dad was alive, we’d often go for a carvery, and out of all the food and condiments they had, they didn’t have ketchup! Unless you wanted to pay for a tiny little pot! Hence, I ended up just taking my own!

Marriage also takes in the mundanities of fruit going off in the fridge while you’ew away, watching TV with friends coming over, and visiting Emma’s father, played by the great James Bolam, who lives with her brother, Paul. And later, Ian and Emma have a dinner at home with their daughter, Jess, bringing her boyfriend round to meet them for the first time.

Yes, the action never starts in this series, right down to how Ian likes the freedom of effectively being retired – since he was made redundant, but then finds himself at a loose end.

So, Marriage is a drama where nothing of consequence happens on purpose. You feel like it’s building up to something, but that never comes. At least not in the first episode I saw. It’s a four-episode series, but after one, I’m out.

As an aside, I’m not sure if there’s any incidental music in this, but there was none in the preview I saw. For example, when she visits her Dad and he asked her to turn the TV up, we still can’t hear anything, so that must’ve been added in later.

Also, the theme music – Caroline Shaw‘s Partita for 8 Voices: No.1, Allemande – is one of the most annoying things I’ve ever heard.

Marriage begins on BBC1 on Sunday at 9pm. It’s available to pre-order on DVD.

After each episode is broadcast, they will be on the BBC iPlayer.

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Re: Marriage reviews
« Reply #2 on: August 12, 2022, 07:10:03 AM »
Marriage review: Sean Bean and Nicola Walker star in a gentle, understated study of a decades-long partnership
Sean Bean and Nicola Walker star in Marriage, a BBC One drama as much about what people struggle to articulate as it is what they can say with ease
Marriage – the BBC One series, that is – is about communication. Or, indeed, a lack thereof: it’s as much about what people struggle to articulate as it is what they can say with ease, fascinated in equal measure by the silences that stretch between partners of decades and spontaneous conversations between strangers.

At the heart of the series are Ian (Sean Bean) and Emma (Nicola Walker). Approaching their 27th wedding anniversary, both are caught in transitional phases – Ian dealing with the dual blows of his mother’s death and being made unexpectedly redundant, Emma taking on new responsibilities at work. Beyond that, though, the series is relatively loosely structured, not quite a series of vignettes but not quite precisely plotted either – Marriage is quite gently weaved together, moving from visits to Emma’s father Gerry (James Bolam) to trips to see their daughter Jessica (Chantelle Alle) with a light touch.

The relationship itself is written with real weight and texture, dotted with neat little observations about each character: he swears much less regularly than she does, she’ll absent-mindedly turn out the light while he’s still in the room. They have friendly little arguments in the supermarket about which brand of chicken tastes chickenier (“We’re becoming like those terrible old people”), and it lends Marriage a real kind of lived-in quality. You get the sense of habits formed over decades, within and alongside one another – they don’t come across as characters invented in isolation, but as though they’re people that have grown and influenced each other across almost three decades.

Stefan Golaszewski (writer and director of Marriage, and creator of both Mum and Him & Her) has quite a deft handle on the relationship, even beyond those little details; there’s always a sense that the silences between Ian and Emma are pregnant with meaning, both the comfortable and the awkward ones. After an unsuccessful job interview, Ian comes home, pottering about the house until Emma gets back, and lying to her about it when she does – it’s only a while later that he admits the interviewer spent their whole meeting on the phone, and they hug in a reassuring silence. That kind of unspoken communication and implied meaning is a real strength of Marriage, with Golaszewski managing to say a lot even as he’s writing a little.

Even so, though, it’s an actor’s show first and foremost. Marriage is quite a quiet piece, generally, never really prone to moments of Big Drama (so to speak), and Bean and Walker key into that volume immediately – neither is a stranger to Big Performances, but they’re both small in exactly the right way here, accentuating Golaszewski’s script and always in total harmony with one another. Even when Ian and Emma aren’t quite on the same page, Bean and Walker always are; Marriage is, for obvious reasons, the sort of show that would live or die on the strength of its casting, but Bean and Walker pitch their performances perfectly.

In some ways, it feels like a particularly strong showcase for Walker, given that the surface similarities between Marriage and The Split – both about long-term relationships, both fascinated by their shape and impact – highlight how vastly different the choices she makes as a performer are in each. She speaks differently, holds herself differently, expresses pain and joy differently, and comparing the Hannah Stern/Emma Doyle roles points to exactly what it means to have range as an actor. Bean of course is remarkable too, an affable man who doesn’t understand how to explain how lonely he’s become, desperate to hang onto fleeting connections with service workers who are really only being polite.

It’s worth drawing particular attention to Chantelle Alle too, if only because a relative unknown starring alongside actors like Bean and Walker would perhaps be overshadowed otherwise – she too is fantastic, though, both individually and the scenes she shares with Bean and Walker. Indeed, actually, Alle’s performance is crucial, with Jessica both a mirror of and a contrast to her parents; Jessica’s gradual re-examination of her father and reconceptualisation of her relationship with him is one of Marriage’s most affecting throughlines, and in the end central to its big ideas about communication.

What’s striking about Marriage, though, is how much space it holds for its supporting characters – how much time it affords to trying to communicate, to the audience if no one else, a world beyond Ian and Emma. When Ian goes to his job interview, the scene doesn’t start with him – it begins earlier, with his interviewer in a minor car crash, justifiably annoyed and understandably more interested in her phone than Ian’s CV. Marriage is a series about communication, and part of that means capturing moments of vulnerability when no one is looking (few other shows get as much pathos out of resetting the wi-fi), but it tries to capture the moments that no one is there even to see. The whole series is rendered with such empathy, and there’s something quite special about that.

Marriage begins on BBC One at 9pm on Sunday 14 August, with the second episode following at the same on Monday 15 and all four episodes available as a boxset on iPlayer immediately. I’ve seen all four episodes of Marriage before writing this review; you can read more of our TV reviews here.

Marriage, BBC1 — Nicola Walker and Sean Bean star in disarming portrait of a relationship
“You ate the fucking chips!” a lady cries out throughout the aisle of a aircraft to her husband. An inelegant argument in regards to the snack bought on the airport café has consumed the final hours of their vacation and has constructed to this explosive, public crescendo. Regardless of the additional weight of marital stress within the cabin, the flight heads for take-off and the person turns into too anxious to maintain bickering. As his spouse’s reassuring hand reaches out to him all of the acrimony drains away.

The scene serves as an ideal introduction to Marriage, a brand new four-part drama that traces the rhythms and fluctuations of a relationship effectively into its third decade. Following Ian (Sean Bean) and Emma (Nicola Walker), it’s the form of present that efficiently pulls off the trick of turning the tv display right into a mirror: reflecting actual life with disarming, unvarnished constancy. Little occurs right here that transcends the on a regular basis — at a number of factors we simply watch them watch TV in acquainted, snug silence.

Consolation, nonetheless, isn’t afforded to us viewers. The extent of intimacy that creator Stefan Golaszewski achieves together with his keenly noticed script and the rawness of the 2 lead performances make us really feel like we’re intruding on the privateness of precise folks — not least in a second during which Emma and Ian break down by the grave of their long-deceased toddler son. In one other agonising, drawn-out scene, Emma makes a sandwich for her aged father (James Bolam) as he affords withering feedback about her marriage. “What have you ever acquired to speak about?” he jibes.

Communication — or its absence — is the present’s preoccupation. Whereas the dialogue offers a combination of banalities, pointless quarrelling and humorous exchanges, there’s a notable dearth of significant conversations. As an alternative, we see the toll of Ian’s inarticulacy in his fastened, painfully strained smile and witness how shortly discussions prevented out of ease can metastasise into substantial arguments and problems with belief.

 However there’s additionally a recognition of the non-verbal vocabulary that has sustained them for this lengthy. At one level, the couple share half-completed ideas about how ardour dissipates with the years. “If you’ve been collectively for so long as now we have . . . ” Ian begins dishearteningly, earlier than trailing off. The subsequent shot reveals the 2 kissing on the station like shameless youngsters.

Tender moments present some levity to a collection that, for all its authenticity, can really feel a bit stifling and drab. Intentional although that could be for a present a few lengthy marriage, it’s one to be prevented by anybody seeking to TV as a method of escaping actuality.

« Last Edit: August 12, 2022, 03:44:14 PM by patch »

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Re: Marriage reviews
« Reply #3 on: August 13, 2022, 03:28:23 AM »
BBC One’s Marriage: this new Nicola Walker series is redefining what sincere romance dramas look like
BBC One’s Marriage premieres this weekend and as well as being an incredibly realistic look into married life, it also breathes new life into the romantic drama genre, according to one Stylist writer.
Content warning: this article contains minor spoilers for BBC One’s Marriage.
When you think of romantic dramas, you can’t help but immediately think of some of the more over-the-top, hilarious and binge-worthy takes on the genre. Think of The Summer I Turned Pretty, Bridgerton or Purple Hearts. But there’s a growing number of romance dramas that are swapping the dramatics for the painstakingly realistic – Normal People, Love Life and Everything I Know About Love are just a few examples – and that’s where BBC One’s highly anticipated new series Marriage comes into play.

Airing this coming Sunday (14 August), Marriage has always promised to be a realistic and heartfelt depiction of long-term love, and boy does it deliver that in droves. If you’re looking for a fast-paced, gritty and flashy depiction of relationships, this isn’t the series for you. Instead, Marriage offers us one of the most sincere depictions of love we’ve seen on TV.

We follow Nicola Walker (The Split) and Sean Bean (Game Of Thrones), who star as married couple Ian and Emma. We’re not meeting them at the start or end of their journey together; instead, we are just witnesses to a snapshot of their lives. Their 30-year marriage isn’t all sunshine and roses; it’s realistic – they argue over the lack of jacket potatoes available in a Spanish airport in the series’ first scene – and it’s these scenes of bubbling anger that home in on the not-so-pretty side of relationships, something most viewers will undoubtedly be able to sympathise with. 

It’s part of the show’s appeal, and from the start, you realise it’s the kind of brilliant drama that you can’t quite tear your eyes away from. Ian and Emma’s quiet yet ferocious argument on the aeroplane home is indicative of the way we strive to maintain a façade of relationship perfection in public, but sometimes there’s just too much emotion to hide.

Ian has recently been made redundant and is dealing with the death of his mother, both of which place a different strain on his marriage. But it’s the depiction of him as a quiet, isolated and unconfident older married man that is one of the more interesting things that plays out throughout the four-part series. We see him make fleeting comments about Emma’s younger, flashier male colleague Jamie (Henry Lloyd-Hughes), asking her how her meeting with him went. It’s clearly the beginning of a jealous spiral, but it’s how Ian’s need for attention manifests itself that is intriguing to watch.

On one of his regular trips to the leisure centre, he starts chatting to the receptionist, an interaction that has clearly taken place many times before. What starts off as pleasantries quickly grows awkward; he initially asks her if she has time to work out and then comments on the need for her to “build up a sweat”. It’s enough to get her to take a step into the back room for a breather, only to come out and find him still lingering there.

We follow her later on as she’s still shaken by the encounter and goes to meet her fiancé afterwards, not telling him about the weird encounter with Ian. But it’s Ian going back to the leisure centre to enquire about her whereabouts that is most chilling and will likely unfold throughout the next three episodes. Moments like these offer us another side of Ian’s personality, and suddenly the well-meaning, awkward persona reveals itself to be something we should rightly be suspicious of.

Even so, the relationship between Ian and Emma – and the highs and lows that come with it – are the main focus of the series, which is propped up by how natural everything about the series feels.

The easygoing dialogue is only a testament to Stefan Golaszewski’s (Him And Her, Mum) direction, but the series should be watched for Walker and Bean’s performances in particular. Their effortless chemistry really makes you believe them as a long-married couple. It’s reflective in each scene but even in their everyday actions: unpacking the food shopping together, walking down the street holding hands or preparing to host their daughter (Chantelle Alle) and her new boyfriend for dinner. We’re consistently reminded that this is a couple who, no matter what life throws at them, choose to love each other every day.

Romance in real life isn’t always about the flashiest of everything and many recent romantic dramas are guilty of making the genre centre around such aspirational (and fairytale-like) things. As Marriage outlines, though, love is about the shared moments within a relationship, the minute-by-minute life you lead when you’re in a long-term partnership and the inevitable joys (and risks) that come with it all – that’s what makes it so realistic.

Marriage will air on BBC One and BBC iPlayer on Sunday 14 August at 9pm.

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Re: Marriage reviews
« Reply #4 on: August 14, 2022, 02:04:07 AM »
Marriage is largely tedious – Sean Bean’s new TV series finally gets it
No smashed plates. No screaming rows. No custody battles. Stefan Golaszewski’s BBC drama about a 27-year-old partnership is unusually honest about the lethargy of long-term cohabitation, writes Fiona Sturges
In the opening episode of Marriage, husband and wife Ian and Emma clean up after having their daughter, Jess, and her new boyfriend, Adam, over for dinner. We watch as food is silently scraped from plates into the compost bucket, knives and forks are rinsed and put in the dishwasher, and empty cans put in the recycling. Only once the table is cleared and the dishwasher loaded, and the pair are preparing for bed, is the verdict on Adam finally delivered: “I hated his f***ing face,” says Emma.

This new drama from award-winning writer Stefan Golaszewski (Him & Her, Mum) is an intimate portrait of a 27-year-old partnership. It is also among the most wilfully mundane depictions of marriage ever committed to the screen. Ian and Emma – played by Sean Bean and Nicola Walker – appear content enough, though they are past the stage where they feel the need to show it. Much of their communication takes place via the weird telepathy that often exists between long-term couples, meaning that entire scenes pass by wordlessly. Time stretches out as we see them sort through their post, or watch TV while sharing a packet of prawn crackers, or declutter the spare room. Irritation bubbles up by way of hissed asides or heavy sighs, each bearing the weight of old arguments they can’t be bothered to rehash. Ian and Emma’s long silences sometimes feel cosy and endearing, but at other times are uncomfortable. The Pinter pause has got nothing on this.

Film and TV has long been fascinated by the workings of romantic love, though it tends to be more concerned with moments of high drama. Ingmar Bergman’s 1974 series Scenes from a Marriage, remade last year with Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac, saw a couple declare their marriage solid, then split up and subsequently go through the marital equivalent of the seven stages of grief. In the BBC series, Together, Sharon Horgan and James McAvoy’s cohabiting couple demonstrated the fine line between love and hate while marooned at close quarters during lockdown. Marriage Story, from 2019, had Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson’s estranged spouses screaming at each other about which of them hated the other more. Perhaps the most depressing of all marriage portraits is the Oscar-festooned Kramer vs Kramer from 1979, depicting a wife (Meryl Streep) beaten down by motherhood and a husband (Dustin Hoffman) married to his job. When she walks out and then returns 18 months later to claim her son, a grim custody battle ensues.

In Marriage, there are no screaming matches or dramatic walk-outs. Crockery remains resolutely un-thrown. In declining to submit to the demands of conflict-based drama, Golaszewski gives us an unusually honest portrayal of human cohabitation, dispensing with plot in favour of the dreary minutiae of domesticity. As such, it demands a lot of patience from the viewer. There is only so much time you can spend watching Sean Bean loading a dishwasher before lethargy sets in. Both parties can also be intensely (and purposely) annoying: her with her banal prattling, him with his needy hovering when his wife is patently busy.

Ian and Emma’s interactions reminded me not so much of fictional dramas than the recent Showtime series Couples Therapy, which allowed us to go behind the closed doors of a therapist’s office and eavesdrop on spouses bickering over household tasks, social arrangements, or the daily grind that is parenting children. Under the watchful gaze of therapist Orna Guralnik, a raised eyebrow or an eye-roll took on a grave significance. As her clients’ stories unspooled, and entrenched behaviours emerged, the viewer moved from being a neutral observer to casting judgment over a spouse who didn’t listen, or who always thought they knew best, or who so feared being abandoned that they sabotaged the relationship.

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Re: Marriage reviews
« Reply #5 on: August 15, 2022, 01:37:15 AM »
Marriage review — Quietly magnificent scenes from a marriage
That “five-times wed” Sean Bean is starring in a TV drama about a long marriage is just the sort of lame irony his character, Ian, in Marriage would chuckle to himself about while loading the dishwasher. He’d probably point it out to his wife, more than once if she didn’t laugh the first time.

I loved Marriage, a portrait of the fascinating mundanity of ordinary human existence, of pain pushed down, of the quiet dysfunctionality of family relationships. Some of you, I accept, might have found it lacking pace, dull even, but I’d rather sit through hours of this than a silly plot twist and a car chase. And I think most of us could find a bit of ourselves in the scenarios unfolding, the low-level bickering, the banality, but also the moments of marital solidarity.

The dialogue was sparse but that was fine, because you’ll find few actors who can communicate awkwardness, annoyance, distress, vulnerability using only their eyes and slight body movements as Bean and the brilliant Nicola Walker can. And few writers can bring this theatre of the prosaic to life like Stefan Golaszewski, who wrote the near-perfect Mum, starring Lesley Manville.

 There were the beats and pulses of Mum here in the almost imperceptible grunts and sighs, the unsaids, the long, long silences. But unlike Mum there was no comedy. The introduction, a long, airport scene in which Emma (Walker) complained that sachets of ketchup cost 30 cents each and Ian griped that she had got him chips, not a “jacket potaaato”, was mundane yet mesmerically real. “But you ate the f***ing chips, Ian,” she said later on the plane.

Yawning at the centre of their marriage was a tragedy; a small dead son called Nicholas and a graveyard scene in which they each wept, separately, in their own cubicles of grief. Without a word being spoken we understood that this mutual suffering was the glue that bonded them, sewn into their marriage like embroidery on the curtains. I wish more TV dramas had the confidence to lean more on character than plot like this.

Apparently, Golaszewski insists on many, many takes of each scene and I can see why. It takes a lot of work to make awkwardness this authentic. Ian, newly redundant, slightly lost and insecure about his wife’s office friendships (Lord, that ghastly, windowless office), tried to eke out human interactions to fill his day.

And so it was while stretching out a conversation with a young female receptionist at the gym, asking her whether she got to use the equipment to “build up a sweat”, he unintentionally (I think) creeped her out and she had to retreat to the backroom. Excruciating.

Meanwhile, their daughter, Jessica (Chantelle Alle), brought home her controlling boyfriend for a stilted dinner (why do they never have music on in the background during meals in TV dramas?)

Episode two, which is showing tonight, is even better, James Bolam fully getting into his stride as Emma’s peevish, cantankerous but lonely father (I told you there were no laughs). Bean and Walker are subtly magnificent, a couple who, despite tragedy, have settled on a damaged kind of happiness.

It wasn’t flawless: I found the character of Jamie, Emma’s arrogant, conceited boss, a little overwritten, for instance. Although, that said, I’m sure there are thousands of Jamies in backstreet offices around the country. But Marriage is a strange joy to watch; small, uneventful lives writ large.

Marriage, BBC One review - a brilliantly executed drama series with a big heart
Nicola Walker and Sean Bean triumph as a couple in a marital minefield
The gifted writer-director Stefan Golaszewski (Him and Her, Mum) has surpassed himself with his latest drama series, Marriage. Given hour-long episodes to play with, rather than the usual half-hour, he has created an unfeasibly rich four-parter out of the simplest of means.

We are in Golaszewski’s usual world of bedded-in domestic routine, where characters often hide their feelings and assume it’s just what you do. It looks like a comedy of modern manners, but it’s a minefield. Tonally, it’s in gradations of beige, pale grey and watery green, both visually and emotionally; then, much like the way brief pops of intense colour appear in its palette, the dialogue suddenly explodes, before retreating into banality again.

To negotiate this drama-world requires the finely tuned acting skills of major players, especially in the lead roles, which is what Golaszewski gets – Russell Tovey and Sarah Solemani in Him and Her, Lesley Manville and Peter Mullan in Mum. This time it’s Sean Bean and Nicola Walker, and neither has been more impressive.

As Ian and Emma, they go through the motions of their marriage hiding behind toothy insta-smiles, but neither can hoodwink the other for long with this ploy. The opening sequence shows them in an airport cafe, where Ian is trying not to be crabby because he wanted a jacket potato and Emma got him chips instead. She is quick to realise it isn’t the potato that’s bothering him (he ate all the chips, after all, she points out) but nerves about the flight. The row hilariously escalates as they settle in on the plane, the volume rising with each volley, but suddenly he reaches out across the aisle to grip her hand during take-off. And you realise Emma knows her husband of almost 27 years all too well, while he is happy to let the situation erupt, then resolve itself. 

Why are we watching this ordinary-seeming couple, who live in an unassuming detached brick house in an unnamed town, arguing about food? It’s part of Golaszewski’s skill set that he can make everyday life so pregnant with poignancy and significance. Beneath all the prosaic verbiage, there is usually a big heart in pain. As with Emma and Ian. He recently lost his mother, then his job; she has to parry the sulky manipulations of her widower father (more fine playing from James Bolam, pictured above), who wants her undivided attention. There are secret sorrows in their family history, too, though they have a seemingly well adjusted black adopted daughter, Jess (Chantelle Alle), a wannabe singer-songwriter.   

 In this small domestic arena Golaszewski unshowily interrogates big ideas: how should people behave, especially married people? Is openness always good, pretence always bad? Is marriage the opposite of freedom? What drives the drama the most, though, is the palpable feeling that he loves his characters, however unglamorous.

The dramatic terrain unfolds in gentle touches we recognise with a wry smile – the escape into loading the dishwasher when problems lurk, the shared jokes that still have some currency after a quarter of a century, the moment when words fail and only a big hug will do. Ian, we come to see, has had his life upended by redundancy and doesn’t know which way is up yet. He is bored and aimless, scaring strangers with his desire to connect with them, while pretending he’s having a good day.

There is real pathos in watching Bean’s manly frame trying to make its presence felt, while he clearly senses he is invisible or unpalatable to the younger people around him, obsessed with their phones. Even his daughter greets him less avidly, he notes, if she is with her smart-arse record producer boyfriend, Adam (Jack Holden, pictured below with Chantelle Alle), a man with worryingly aggressive opinions about his role in her life. Emma instantly dislikes him for demanding more salad, then not eating it. Under Golaszewski’s microscope we can’t help seeing a coercive controller in embryo

Emma’s role as an office manager brings her a degree of independence – not least from Ian, who is instinctively jealous of her smarmy young solicitor boss, Jamie (Henry Lloyd-Hughes). Jamie is the kind of man who can reel off the performance stats of his expensive car, but rudely swerves important questions; he has his own devils to beat. Emma is dangerously keen to impress him: the woman aghast at the price of everything these days is suddenly paying £3 for extra avocado in a salad like the one Jamie has just ordered.

Throughout, Bean and Walker deploy their expressive faces like ultra-sensitive weather maps, cloudiness and sun registering in turn without a word being uttered. They can silently lie on a sofa, watching television and devouring prawn crackers, and you can’t take your eyes off them. Watch out for an extraordinary wordless sequence on a cemetery bench that has to rank as one of the great TV drama scenes.

It’s not just the acting that impresses. There’s an almost art-house zing to the pacing and editing, an instinctive feel for when to cut or cross-cut a scene, when to play it in total silence or drown its dialogue in the noise of drills and sirens. Another masterstroke is the Pulitzer-winning opening and end-credits theme: part of the Partita for Eight Voices by the young American Caroline Shaw, which weaves spoken vocal lines of relentless instructions – “To the side, to the side, and around, turn around, to the midpoint” – into a cacophony. Inside this frame, Emma and Ian soldier on, hand in hand, as their personal cacophony builds; from one angle, small and impotent, from another, heroic. Magnificent..

Marriage review – Sean Bean and Nicola Walker are pitch perfect
This clever drama about a 27-year relationship is full of slow, steady reveals that are sparse and deeply affecting. The actors’ rich, detailed performances will welcome you in
The opening minutes of Marriage (BBC One) could be accused of pulling a fast one. Sean Bean and Nicola Walker, two surefire indicators of good-quality British TV, are married couple Ian and Emma. We meet them as they wait at the airport for their flight home, after a holiday in Spain. The first real line of dialogue is “I had to pay for the ketchup”, and they bicker over whether Emma should have asked the man at the cafe if he would make a jacket potato for Ian, despite it looking as if they only sold chips.

Opening with a low-stakes row about potatoes, and the fact that Marriage comes from the pen of Stefan Golaszewski, creator of Him & Her and Mum, suggests that this will be about finding wry humour in the mundane reality of a long-term relationship. Emma and Ian talk about dodgy tummies and who will pick up the parcel that has been left with a nextdoor neighbour. They watch TV and tease each other about the state of their pants. There’s nothing wrong with the mundane, as Golaszewski’s previous shows have proved again and again. Plenty of people tune in to watch Gogglebox every week, and that’s just us watching people watching telly. Done well, it can be a voyeuristic treat.

The opening minutes of Marriage (BBC One) could be accused of pulling a fast one. Sean Bean and Nicola Walker, two surefire indicators of good-quality British TV, are married couple Ian and Emma. We meet them as they wait at the airport for their flight home, after a holiday in Spain. The first real line of dialogue is “I had to pay for the ketchup”, and they bicker over whether Emma should have asked the man at the cafe if he would make a jacket potato for Ian, despite it looking as if they only sold chips.

Opening with a low-stakes row about potatoes, and the fact that Marriage comes from the pen of Stefan Golaszewski, creator of Him & Her and Mum, suggests that this will be about finding wry humour in the mundane reality of a long-term relationship. Emma and Ian talk about dodgy tummies and who will pick up the parcel that has been left with a nextdoor neighbour. They watch TV and tease each other about the state of their pants. There’s nothing wrong with the mundane, as Golaszewski’s previous shows have proved again and again. Plenty of people tune in to watch Gogglebox every week, and that’s just us watching people watching telly. Done well, it can be a voyeuristic treat.

The light touch is deceptive, though, and Marriage soon reveals that it won’t quite be the gentle series it first appears. All the characters in the couple’s lives talk to each other in cliches and platitudes. They stick to the script of human communication, politely indulging in small talk, while hardly ever daring to say what they truly mean. Emma has an oddly excruciating chat with her younger, smarmy boss Jamie about what a risk it is to buy clothes online. Ian tries to be friendly with the receptionist at the gym, then dithers about how to fix it when he realises he has made the wrong impression.

There are long stretches of action without dialogue, and the show is as allergic to exposition as it is to characters finishing their sentences. As Emma visits her elderly father, a man sitting with him hides upstairs – we don’t yet know who he is. Emma’s father is frosty, then accusatory, and in a single line we understand what is happening in their relationship, and the role that Ian has to play. They shift boxes from the bed of their daughter’s childhood room, and there are no children at home. We find out why in slow, steady reveals that are sparse and deeply affecting.

Of course, this requires a lot of trust in the writing, and the storytelling. You have to hold out your hand and be willing to be led, believing that it will take you somewhere you want to go. Bean taps into some of that pain, pushed down and away, that he performed so memorably in Jimmy McGovern’s prison drama Time. Even the small details here are rich. When he goes to the gym, the younger men give up their weights for him and call him “Sir”. It is a neat show of how old he must feel, and how surprised he is to feel it. Walker clings on to a busy, brittle briskness that suggests she doesn’t have time for feelings, particularly the big, complicated ones that keep threatening to intrude.

This is all about feelings, in the end. There is a pitch-perfect realism to the way these characters talk without really saying anything, then put across what they really mean while saying nothing at all. It’s so cleverly done. When their daughter Jess comes to visit, bringing her new boyfriend, you want to shake every single one of them into listening to what is actually being said and to act on it.

There is a lot of dithering, and a lot of keeping difficult conversations at arm’s length. This can be frustrating. It is an hour long, and you feel it. The tension it whips up – in Emma’s place of work, or in Ian’s lonely wandering, or at dinner with Jess’s creepy and controlling partner – can be genuinely unpleasant to sit through. But that is the point. This is all about the light and shade, the big and the small moments, what makes a marriage work and the cracks that can appear in it. It’s true that charging for sachets of tomato ketchup is an outrage; as is a colleague leaving rubbish on your desk; as is dealing with a demanding older parent, or an arrogant younger man. By the time they’re discussing the merits of a pre-dinner snack – traditional peanuts, or the pricier cashews? – the intimacy between Ian and Emma has welcomed in the viewer, too.

At long last! A brilliant BBC drama about normal people: Marriage might be everyday stuff, but it delivers a frisson of shock too, writes CHRISTOPHER STEVENS
The only hint of fantasy in this depiction of suburban life is the casting. Emma is played by Nicola Walker and Sean Bean is Ian.

I suspect almost every British woman of a certain age, however posh, would settle for a lifetime of holidays in Torremolinos if it meant sharing a bed with Sean.

It might be everyday stuff, but it delivers a frisson of shock too.

We spend so much of our lives in front of the box, but this time it feels as though the TV is seeing us too.

The story of Emma and Ian is somehow utterly absorbing. What a pleasure it can be to peek into lives more like our own.

Marriage, review: Sean Bean and Nicola Walker will shake you out of complacency
Bean and Walker were, as you’d expect, wonderful. Perhaps the real Ians and Emmas watching Marriage while curled up on the sofa will take courage from this redemptive hymn to quiet decency.

Marriage, BBC1, review: Sean Bean and Nicola Walker find magic in the doldrums of a long-term relationship
The actors are at the very top of their game in this understated, sublime vignette of a 30-year-long marriage
Bean and Walker, at the absolute top of their game, deliver soaring emotion in the most subtle of ways. They convey so much even without words that you feel as though you are constantly aware of each of their inner monologues.

Marriage review: Sean Bean and Nicola Walker’s marital non-drama will bore you to tears
Stefan Golaszewski’s new BBC drama navigates the humdrum rhythms of a long-term relationship. But this stuff is boring enough to live through, let alone watch

Marriage on BBC review: Sean Bean and Nicola Walker deliver acting masterclass in authentic relationship study
Bean plays Ian with the kind of diminished sadness where a hesitant shuffle into a job interview or a gym (he’s recently been made redundant) says more than a hundred lines. Walker’s Emma is more expressive, more obviously searching for that elusive happiness away from home. Feistier, but more forgiving, too.
Together they create moments of great drama – a visit to a graveyard ends up with Emma weeping on a bench. Ian makes no effort to bridge the obvious gap between them to console his wife.

Marriage on BBC review: Sean Bean and Nicola Walker deliver acting masterclass in authentic relationship study

Marriage: BBC viewers divided over slow, realist Sean Bean drama
Is the new primetime series mind-numbingly dull or beautifully subtle?
Sean Bean’s new drama, Marriage, has divided viewers after premiering on BBC One last night (14 August).

BBC Marriage viewers switch off as they make same complaint about Sean Bean drama
But some BBC fans were left less than thrilled with the drama, bemoaning the pace of the new series which left them switching off. Several complained the first episode was “slow” and “boring”, while others vowed to boycott the rest of the series.

« Last Edit: August 15, 2022, 08:28:32 AM by patch »

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Re: Marriage reviews
« Reply #6 on: August 16, 2022, 01:21:46 AM »
Yes, married life really is this dull
The new BBC TV show Marriage may fill some people with horror, but they’re missing the point, says Candida Crewe
It doesn’t look to me as though Emma and Ian, the couple in the TV drama Marriage so beautifully played by Nicola Walker and Sean Bean, have had sex in many a moon.

Yet in the first episode, despite a row about chips in an airport, the couple are muddling along in a familiar, fond way, which strikes those of us who have been married as pretty darn accurate.

I divorced in 2010 but was with my ex-husband for 17 years and married for 12 of them. Communication never broke down because we both loved to talk — and still do. We made each other laugh and understood one another completely. But sometimes we didn’t say things that needed saying. Not a lover of confrontation I went in for passive aggression, I’m ashamed to say, and would scream at him sometimes — in my head. He could sulk for two or three days, but it would always end when a friend dropped round, say, and we would have to wise up. Or one of us capitulated and made a joke.

The excellent new drama on BBC1 may well put young people off marriage for life. There was a Twitter storm after Sunday’s first episode along the lines of: if this is what it’s like, forget about it! Yet the way it portrays the silences and awkwardness, the understanding and affection, the pauses and hugs so brilliantly is marriage. Not all marriage, all the time, but it is refreshing to see it on television like this.

Stefan Golaszewski’s Marriage is a stone-cold masterpiece
Nicola Walker and Sean Bean are both marvellous in this realistic, empathetic portrait of an ordinary, loving couple.
For all that I believe Stefan Golaszewski’s Marriage to be a stone-cold masterpiece – it’s Terry and June as written by Harold Pinter, and what isn’t there to like about that? – this doesn’t mean it’s enjoyable, exactly.

Yes, it may be tender and wry and funny; yes, Sean Bean and Nicola Walker give two of the greatest performances of their careers. But it’s also intensely bleak, and sometimes a bit boring, and its strange intimacy has the added side effect of making the viewer feel weirdly self-conscious about her own relationship. God forbid that someone should hear the way you speak to your (in my case) husband in private, however (also in my case) sweetly you may do this. After I watched the second episode, I went upstairs to ask A if he wanted a cup of tea. Such ordinary words – and yet, how odd they sounded.

Golaszewski (Him & Her, Mum) has said that in Marriage he has tried to write about what it is like to be a person, as opposed to a person on television, and that in doing so he has been influenced by – wait for it – Zola, George Eliot, Bach and Stravinsky.

What all this amounts to in effect, I think, is a kind of beautifully repetitive internalised drama: one that we are somehow able to witness and understand courtesy only of his barely-there dialogue, and of the tiniest changes in the expressions of Bean and Walker, who play the characters of Ian and Emma, a couple of 27 years’ standing.

As with Bach, there are variations on themes: jealousy, loneliness, joy, kindness. As with Zola, there is an attention to the physical: warmth, cold, wind, the urgent desire to pee. As with Eliot, there is a moral undertow, one that has to do, perhaps, with loyalty. I’m still thinking about Stravinsky. Maybe it is connected to the rhythms beaten out by a certain breed of modernism.

Marriage doesn’t have a plot, exactly: this is a case of information withheld and then slowly revealed. When it begins, Ian, who has recently been made redundant, is coming to terms with long and lonely days at home while Emma is out labouring for a posh toddler of a solicitor called Jamie (Henry Lloyd-Hughes), of whom Ian is now wildly jealous. The couple have an adopted daughter, Jessica (Chantelle Alle) – I’m not going to say more about her place in their lives, for the simple reason that I don’t want to spoil this series for a single soul – and Emma has a controlling elderly father, Gerry (James Bolam).

In essence, we follow their days, sometimes quotidian (Ian has a sudden urge to buy some revitalising shower gel), and sometimes more momentous (Jessica’s new boyfriend comes to dinner, and turns out to be a prick).

As neither Ian nor Emma is much of a talker, the viewer must rely on empathy and observation. What volumes are spoken by the loading of a dishwasher, the watering of hydrangeas, the eating of a takeaway prawn cracker in front of the telly! Disparate emotions mingle like lime added to a pint of lager, embarrassment giving way to sudden pride, fondness shading into massive but unspoken irritation. Like life, all this is beautiful but painful.

It’s wonderfully cast. Bolam gives Gerry a mean-spiritedness that is full of pathos. Lloyd-Hughes deftly suggests Jamie’s entitlement may cover something more feeble (here is a man who likes sugary, yellow-iced cakes more than the Burgundy he swills about in his glass as if it were liquid gold). Walker, of course, is marvellous: flinty, watchful, gauche.

But it’s Bean’s performance that I adore. Oh, how sad men are! How they struggle to talk, and even to love. In his too-long jeans, he’s like some ancient standing stone, worn by the weather and circumstance to the point where no one notices him – save for Emma, who makes a point of kissing him at the bottom of the stairs, on tarmac paths, in the car park at B&Q. When he talks to his cussed father-in-law, he’s still, after all these years, ingratiating – “Hello, young man!” said in the accent of my childhood – and it fairly breaks the heart.

Watch him in this show, if you can bear to, and feel grateful for all of his talent, his skill, his highly particular workaday genius.

It may be glum but BBC’s Marriage could teach newlyweds a thing or two about the real thing
I’m glad my daughter and her husband didn’t see it before their wedding, but it’s a wickedly accurate exposition of what may await them
My daughter got married a couple of weeks ago. It was a wonderful day, full of love and, I’d like to think, full of meaning. In the run-up to the big day, when all the talk was about Portaloos and Prosecco, and the biggest moral dilemma was whether the bride should make a speech or not, I sought to remind the soon-to-be newly-weds of the very important distinction between a wedding and a marriage, and that they should take time beforehand, and during, away from the aunties and the antipasti, to reflect on the real significance of what they are doing.

As a man with some experience in the matter – I’ve been married and divorced twice – I’d joke with them to make the point. “If you’re half as happy as I’ve been when I was married,” I would say, “you’ll be bloody miserable for the rest of your lives.” Ho ho. It was a shame that the new BBC drama Marriage hadn’t started its run at that time, because I could have just told them to watch that instead. There, laid out before them, is a wickedly accurate exposition of what may await them.

 The four-part series, starring two of the greatest British character actors of their generation, Nicola Walker and Sean Bean, started on Monday night, and while it received a mixed reception from viewers expecting simply to be entertained, it stands up to serious examination as a portrait of all that’s good and bad, uplifting and depressing, comforting and disquieting about sharing your life with someone.

Walker (Emma) and Bean (Ian) convey so much meaning – the disenchantment, the hurt, the simmering anger – without having to utter a word that their silences are sometimes too much to bear. Theirs is a 27-year marriage, and this is an unflinchingly naturalistic portrayal of the two conflicting realities at work here, the one that is articulated, albeit in platitudes and banalities, and the one that waits below the surface to erupt. The scene in which Emma and Ian load the dishwasher in total silence, while harbouring deep resentment, is one to which many long-term married people can relate.

But in these moments, too, exist the elixir of marriage: the comfort of silence, the togetherness that derives from shared, everyday, activities, the easy arm round the shoulder, the hugs, the solid sense that you’d know what your partner thinks about any given situation. And as they argue, there’s a relatable dimension, too, as the mundanity of most marital ding-dongs is brought vividly to life by the writer Stefan Golaszewski. I don’t think I’ve ever had a row about a jacket potato, but it’s not impossible.

As a work of social and psychological commentary, Marriage is peerless. But what about its value as a piece of television? While I generally eschew the Trip Advisor culture of logging on to see what others thought, I couldn’t help myself scrolling through Twitter for a straw poll on the show. The reaction was overwhelmingly negative. “If I wanted realism, I’d film my husband walking round Tesco” was the general view. “Stifling,” “awkward”, “boring”, “uneventful” were some of the more palatable adjectives employed.

Marriage may indeed be all of these things. And marriage may be, too. That’s the point, I suppose. In the end, I’m glad my daughter and her new husband didn’t watch it before they pledged their troth. Better that they discover the forthcoming joys and disappointments for themselves.

« Last Edit: August 16, 2022, 12:21:17 PM by patch »

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Re: Marriage reviews
« Reply #7 on: August 17, 2022, 01:14:48 AM »

'Boring'? No, this drama captures the quiet devotion of marriage that so many will recognise: BEL MOONEY has been left moved and inspired by BBC's latest drama
The drama is so true to life it makes you wince. Then laugh, groan, cover your eyes...then cry.

Are married people really like that? Do they say ‘yeah’ all the time to fill the silences between them? Do they smile awkwardly and say ‘all good!’ to hide the heartbreak inside? The answer, according to writer-director Stefan Golaszewski, is a resounding ‘yes’.

That’s why his four-part BBC1 drama, called simply Marriage, is such a triumph.

t’s true that some viewers have criticised the drama for . . . well . . . its lack of drama.

Too used to crime shows that start with somebody (usually female) who met a horrible death, or glossy dramas like The Split and The Politician’s Wife which portray slick, horrible people in unrealistically glamorous homes, critical viewers found Marriage much too slow-moving.

Marriage tells mundane, unvarnished truth, in contrast to those fantasy worlds where everybody, dressed in designer clothes and glugging wine, plans adultery behind expensive bi-fold doors. Marriage — both the drama and the reality — requires patience.

And the frenetic, revved-up, instant world of Twitter cannot bear too much reality.

Real life, in all its complexity, is the subject of one of the most compelling TV dramas I have watched in years.

Unused to realistic silences, no wonder many impatient viewers gave up at the first hurdle. It’s their loss.

Yet I find the superficial criticisms of this fine drama sadly revealing of wider attitudes these days. Because far too many people crash out at the first blip in any relationship, let alone have the emotional stamina to stay the course in a long marriage.

Now, 15 years into my second marriage, and after 17 years of writing an advice column, I know that marriage is the greatest test of character most of us will ever have to face.

I’ve already watched all four episodes, yet the notion of any ‘spoilers’ doesn’t even crop up here. There are no cliffhangers, no twists, no surprise villains.

This is a small saga of everyday life, at the end of which there really isn’t much change from where we found the characters, Ian and Emma, at the start.

Played brilliantly by Sean Bean and Nicola Walker, the couple have been married for 27 years and are much, much closer than the careless viewer might think, watching their silly (and oh-so-typical) opening row over the chips he didn’t want. Such petty disagreements are the stuff of everyday life — like which kind of chicken to buy or whose turn it is to empty the dishwasher.

You hear edgy, sweary Emma say: ‘Oh, don’t turn this into something,’ and recognise that, in every marriage, there comes a moment when you can choose to escalate — or to diffuse. Sadly, countless people choose escalation. They like to make a mountain out of a molehill because it adds what screenwriters call ‘jeopardy’ — putting them at the centre of their own small drama. If you’re a bit bored with life, and secretly wish things were different, a fierce quarrel can allow selfishness to rip.

Therapists even say a good row can let off steam and help a marriage along. Really? Personally, I never quarrel — truly. Because I know from my childhood how much lasting damage the constant bickering of a married couple can cause. I’d counsel self-control and understanding instead.

The disagreements we see between Ian and Emma are always trivial. During the four hours of the BBC drama, we are made privy to their married life over a couple of weeks.

Their problems are ones millions of other people have to deal with: bereavements, redundancy, the pressure of caring for a demanding, elderly parent, an ambition versus a sense of failure, anxiety over a beloved child’s unsuitable partner, jealousy, crippling lack of confidence and anxiety.

Not to mention the tedium of the daily round of shopping, cooking, emptying the dishwasher, sorting out an invasion of ants — and locking the back door.

Ian and Emma are the kind of people who always take their shoes off at the front door, unaware that they are still tracking all the invisible, grubby problems of human life into their own very ordinary home.

It was recently revealed that 2021 was the first year in recorded history when the majority of babies in England and Wales (51.3 per cent) were born out of wedlock. That commonly used word (in this context) ‘wedlock’ might itself reveal a reason.

Young people no longer think it so important to be ‘locked’ into marriage; solemn commitment is out of fashion.

Used to ‘hook-up’ culture (i.e. brief sexual encounters), too much choice about everything, and passing fads in health, food and fashion, they shy away from making solemn vows.

But they seem to have no problem about moving in together after a very short time. This, despite the fact that a Centre for Social Justice report in 2020 made the point that by the time their child is five, 53 per cent of unmarried parents will have split up, compared with 15 per cent of married ones.

Also despite the worrying truth that the life prospects for the children of married parents are much better than those of unmarried couples.

Yet a majority of young people seem to agree with Ian and Emma’s charming, pretty adopted daughter Jess. She says: ‘It’s just mad, isn’t it — marriage?’ and completely misunderstands what makes her parents tick — but allows her arrogant boyfriend to control her, then tells her mother she can imagine ‘spending the rest of her life’ with a waiter she has only just met.

You realise Jess hasn’t a clue about what it actually means to commit to somebody for a lifetime, to promise to be together, ‘for better, for worse’ — let alone support each other through all life’s troubles, until one of you is left alone.

Once upon a time, young people assumed this would be their life pattern, as it was for their parents. These days it’s not such an attractive prospect.

Will Golaszewski’s slow-moving TV drama put them off the institution still more? I suspect it will. If you are addicted to the glitz and glamour of Love Island, how on earth could you find a conjugal visit to B&Q remotely appealing?

Used to scrolling through ‘influencers’ on social media and marvelling at their clothes, homes and lifestyle, wouldn’t you pity the middle-aged couple in dreary clothes, with their ironing board in the hall?

Encouraged to ‘let it all hang out’, weaned on psychobabble about your ‘issues,’ won’t you feel repelled by the dishonest silences between a couple who smile brightly and say: ‘All good, yeah!’ to each other, while their hearts are full of quiet desperation?

Yet there is a vitally important four-letter word left out of that equation: LOVE. Because the deep affection between Ian and Emma is beyond words and defies speech. Their mutual need and passionate loyalty prove the truth of the old saying, ‘love is what you have been through with somebody’.

Poor shambling Ian, depressed after being made redundant, trying to fill his days, jealous of his wife’s horrible boss . . . he understands the truth about marriage. ‘It’s interesting the way young people talk about love,’ he tells Emma. ‘They always talk about the heat of it, don’t they.’

But when a couple has been together as long as they have, through good times and bad, they accept that the flames of passion will always subside, but love’s slow-burning ember can last for ever. That is what makes Marriage so tender.

Within a long marriage (and I’ve been lucky in both mine) the romance of those first months or years evolves, slowly but surely, into a sense of ‘you and me against the world’.

You might feel critical of your spouse, but just let anybody else dare to notice his or her faults!

One of the most moving moments in Marriage comes when Emma, who now sees her unpleasant young boss Jamie for what he is, proclaims what a ‘good person’ her husband is. She knows him.

He is the one who supported her through the loss of their baby son, who pushed through the adoption of their daughter, who was always there . . . ‘perfect, actually’.

When she tells her daughter, quite simply: ‘We looked after each other,’ that sentence is worth all the love poems and cheesy lyrics in the whole world.

Many years ago I was invited by a major London publisher to compile an anthology of writings on marriage. It was a dream commission, to be called From This Day Forward.

Looking back, I can regard that time of research as a sort of apprenticeship for writing my Saturday advice column in the Mail.

So many marriage problems. Such tolerance and accommodation necessary to survive. Such complexity — and yet all the wide reading taught me one simple, incontrovertible truth — that companionship is the secret of a happy union.

Not sex. Not excitement. Not glamour. When you become ‘a comfortable couple’ (to use a beautiful phrase from Charles Dickens) you realise that popping into B&Q, and bickering over which sort of chicken to buy really is the stuff of marriage. You choose to do things together because you don’t want to be apart — even if being together is sometimes as mundane as a night in front of the TV.

In 16th-century France the renowned philosopher-statesman Michel de Montaigne wrote this about the state of holy matrimony: ‘A good marriage, if such there be, rejects the company and conditions of love. It tries to reproduce those of friendship. It is a sweet association in life, full of constancy, trust and an infinite number of useful and solid services and mutual obligations.’

Golaszewski’s brilliant dramatic creations, ordinary old Ian and Emma, epitomise that wisdom.

I was awed by how every nuance of friendship and frustration plays across the expressive faces of the actors, as their characters hold each other up through the remembrance of past grief into present anxiety and disappointment.

Ian and Emma are Everyman and Everywoman, locked into mutual needs which sometimes feel imprisoning — yet holding each other tightly in those hugs that are so much more meaningful than any sexual frisson.

Over the past 50 years, one-third of marriages have ended in divorce. But some people marry again, once or even twice, showing that hope never dies.

As somebody who loves being married and truly values the institution — and has written thousands of words on the subject — I would recommend any young couple in love to watch the four parts of Marriage and learn.

The lesson is not that married life is slow, tense, humdrum and full of tedious misunderstandings — although all that is true.

No. Marriage reveals how the long-lasting companionship between two adults can evolve into an unassailable beauty as bright as any diamond — and just as precious.

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Re: Marriage reviews
« Reply #8 on: August 18, 2022, 12:53:43 PM »

JANET STREET-PORTER: 'Marriage' has dragged the BBC’s dreary dramas to a depressing new low: I don’t pay my licence fee to watch (5 times married) Sean Bean mope about in his underpants drinking milk from a carton
Do we need a television series to remind us how dreary living with the same person for 27 years can be? Even if the leading man is Sean Bean, an actor who’s been married even more times than me.

In real life, the list of Mr Bean’s weddings and subsequent divorces sums up the life of someone with a remarkably short attention span. The Game of Thrones star has been married to Debra, Melanie, Abigail, Georgina and is currently ‘very happy’ with wife number five, Ashley.

As an actor, Bean has excelled at playing macho men like Tom Sharpe and Boromir in Lord of the Rings, winning accolades and millions of female fans with his Yorkshire accent and chunky good looks.

Now, he’s opted for a complete re-brand, a career re-boot portraying an ordinary, boring chap with bad underwear, just like so many of the blokes his female fans are sharing a home with. Previously he was a secret crush, now he’s the bloke you’d avoid bumping into at the corner store.

In Marriage, the new BBC drama, he plays a crushed no-hoper, married to the same woman for decades. We see him moping about in his underpants, drinking milk from the carton, living in a dreary house, married to a wife (Nicola Walker) fast losing her patience.

Boring as bats*** or TV bliss?

Marriage explores the relationship between Emma, a legal secretary, and Ian who is unemployed and reduced to picking up litter. To fans - and some critics- it is utterly compelling. To others- like me- this interminable rendition of lower middle-class life in suburbia is as riveting as watching the dog wee.

Fans say it is wonderful to see real life portrayed on screen, not some ‘syrupy b******s’, but the rows, the silences, and the tears at the grave of their dead child.

Critics have described the show as ‘like watching paint dry’ and say they felt like they were being ‘forced to do work experience at Relate…without the free biscuits.

Written by Stephan Golaszewski, the show has been lauded for showing a suburban house WITHOUT AN ENSUITE BATHROOM- as if that is a substitute for entertainment or a plot that draws the viewer in and makes you want more.

We’re two episodes in, and Sean has been giving interviews defending his new persona. He reveals: ‘I am bored of watching a lot of programmes, especially ones about detectives….I hate detective novels'.

Sadly for Sean, it’s well documented that huge numbers of female viewers adore crime dramas and detective stories. He seems to forget that earlier in his career he was happy to appear in Inspector Morse and the Bill. And his co-star Nicola Walker is never off our screens as a cop: previously starring as the lead detective in the popular ITV series Unforgotten, playing DS Stevie Stephenson in BBC’s River and Assistant Commissioner Sharon Franklin in Channel 4’s Babylon.

Do we really need a television series about the tedium of suburban life? We’ve been through Covid, endured house arrest for months, and now - if we haven’t managed to get on a flight out of the country for some fun - there’s a chance to spend hour after hour watching a couple of our finest actors playing out the sheer dreariness of their married life in the sacred Sunday night prime time slot.

 Once, Sunday evenings were a time to settle down in front of the telly and gorge on the costumes, the insanely snobby dialogue and the downstairs tittle tattle in Downton. Poldark might have overstayed it’s welcome, but Aiden Turner certainly brightened up my life.

The ratings for Bridgerton, even re-runs of Downton- sum up one what most viewers want. Costumes, cops, plots, sex and violence. The most popular series on the BBCi player currently is Peaky Blinders- which delivers the lot.

TV bosses should realise that millions of viewers have opted to stay at home this summer- relying on television for a spot of escapism, sex and excitement. Instead, we’ve got Cricket, athletics, repeats, endless documentaries about spies during the Cold War, women in prison, and the opening of a new custody centre (prison in old parlance) in Grimsby.

BBC1’s hit series Shetland might have returned but has all the thrust and excitement of a clapped-out Reliant Robin, with leading man DI Perez (Doug Henshall) reduced to cooking a candlelit supper for a potential love interest when he can't find a missing boy.

There’s one reason why I expect Marriage - the series - to be a flop: no one wants to be reminded just how humdrum their lives are.

The institution of marriage has never been less popular - and there’s a good reason. Living with the same person year in and year out can drive you around the bend. No wonder so many women are keeping their options open, marrying later or not at all. And older women no longer feel ashamed to opt for divorce when the kids have left and they are free to live the live they want- no longer a slave to everyone else in the marital home.

We’re constantly told (by so-called experts) that for any relationship to survive there has to be give and take. But I don’t want to waste an hour watching television to be reminded of all the flash points that mark out any marriage that's struggling.

I could list them all without the help of expensive stars like Sean and Nicola, plodding away as his long-suffering wife.

In the opening scenes, they bicker over why she bought him chips at the airport café instead of the baked potato he asked for and it soon escalates into an all-too-familiar row on the airplane.

I don’t pay the BBC £159 to see gorgeous actors droning on about the price of a sachet of tomato ketchup.

If I want that level of inconsequential dialogue, the Archers on Radio 4 supplies it in spades week in and week out.

The other week, the soap’s eldest resident, Peggy, was bowing out with a gripping conversation about the design of a stained-glass window in the local church for a pair of new-born twins. That is positively Shakespearean compared to the mind-numbing banalities spouted by Ian and Emma.

When it comes to picking a fight over the most trivial aspects of day to day living, I raise my hand, guilty as charged.

I can start a row over anything, from the way to put toast in the toaster to how to operate the tumble drier.

It’s my way, or the wrong way.

But I don’t expect to see this turned into a pretentious hour of telly - unless I’m played by Maggie Smith or Ian McKellen!

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Re: Marriage reviews
« Reply #9 on: August 18, 2022, 01:21:51 PM »
OMG is this loud-mouth STILL around?  "Tom" Sharpe?  Get your facts straight, dear, pick up your pension and ****** off!

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Re: Marriage reviews
« Reply #10 on: August 19, 2022, 01:32:49 AM »
Must Watch reviews Marriage
Every week, the Must Watch podcasters review the biggest TV and streaming shows.
This week, Hayley Campbell and Scott Bryan review Marriage.
BBC One portrays the the bittersweet reality of a long-term relationship through fun, laughter and tears with Sean Bean and Nicola Walker.
Hayley says "It is about a marriage, but it’s also about all the ways that humans bump up against each other, how we interact and the hidden meanings and stories"
I love that this series is not exactly what you think it’s going to be from that first scene. That extended argument about a jacket potato sort of lulls you into thinking that this is going to be a funny show about the ridiculous, mundane nonsense that we all end up arguing about when we’re in a long-term relationship and some of the show is exactly that, but as the episodes go on, it reveals itself to be something that I think is much deeper and much, much sadder.

It’s all about how it’s easier to fight about the small things, rather than even name the big things that are actually bothering you. It’s all about the minor daily adjustments you have to make to your life to just keep a relationship going, whether it’s a marriage or within a family, with your ageing father, whatever it is, and how all of those can wear on you. And it’s also about how everyone is going through their own thing, so how they appear to you might not be who they actually are. The uptight lady in the office might be grieving a dead baby, or the person who interviews you for a job might have just smashed their car into someone else on the way in so it’s not you failing at your interview, it’s them being consumed by something else. It is about a marriage, but it’s also about all the ways that humans bump up against each other, how we interact and the hidden meanings and stories. Like Scott says, it can be tedious. It’s more of a quiet, excruciating Harold Pinter play than a thrilling drama. But I think there’s a lot going on here and it’s very realistic in its tedium. There’s a two minute scene where it’s just Sean Bean loading a dishwasher, but this is what long-term relationships are like. When there are big things weighing on you, I find that I cling to those tedious, normal moments like a life-raft, because they’re a moment of things being normal even if something horrible is going on.

I really, really love this show. I love it for what it’s trying to do, and I love it for the performances, which are stunning. You already know how much I love Nicola Walker, and she is truly great in this. Sean Bean will break your heart.

Scott says "Everything in it is so natural to the extent where it hardly feels like a television show at all"
I have never seen a show that has had such a marmite reaction, but this show is magnificent.

I absolutely adore it, because everything in it is so natural to the extent where it hardly feels like a television show at all.

There’s a scene in which Ian (Sean Bean) and his character Ian are just washing up mugs. There’s another when we see him waiting around a lift! You might be thinking to yourself ‘what are they showing? Surely having this couple who have been married for nearly three decades going about their lives is just tedious. Why would people go and see this?’ – but that is actually, in my view, the show's strength, because it captures all of the nuances of a long-term relationship that I think many of us have seen or have been a part of.

There’s an argument about a jacket potato in which Nicola Walker’s character: Emma, orders chips instead of a jacket potato and Ian wants a jacket potato. This argument goes on for so long that you slowly realise that actually, the argument isn't about a jacket potato at all.

The drama also reflects many issues that I think viewers might have: the resentment of a parent that might feel abandoned, because their child is getting along with their own lives and aren’t at home anymore, to having a son or daughter that have got a new partner you don't particularly like, but there’s nothing you can do.

And the absolute heart of this story which I think is really rather interesting is how both Ian (Sean Bean) and Emma (Nicola Walker) just don’t communicate the things that matter the most. They sort of visit their son’s grave and you see them in a heart rendering scene on a bench crying next to each other, but then not talking to each other at any point about how they are actually feeling, how they are actually grieving.

They talk about all the other stuff in their lives, from going to the gym to little frustrations at work, but they don’t actually open up in the way that they should, partially, because they’re worried about the consequences, but also because they’ve been together for so long, they can predict how each other is going to react from that. Nicola Walker and Sean Bean’s chemistry is amazing - it actually feels like they’re in a long-term relationship with each other. There’s those really uncomfortable gaps in silences where you can sense what they’re thinking.

It’s completely believable. It’s an absolute triumph. If you don’t like it straight away, please, please stick with it.

Must Watch is released as a podcast every Monday evening from BBC Sounds and all other good podcast providers.

Must Watch Marriage | Hobby man | Red Rose

Marriage is a version of our own boring lives — and it’s riveting
I’ll never forget hearing a well-known television writer claim that most of us critics don’t watch the box from the perspective of an ordinary viewer. How the hell do you think we watch it, I fair raged? From the perspective of a dragonfly? Or the late Vatican reformer Pope John XXIII?

Well, let’s see. One programme that the “critics” adored but which some (although certainly not all) “viewers” were said to have been bored stiff by this week was Marriage (BBC1) , a four-part drama (now box set) that made a virtue of painstakingly portraying the lives of Sean Bean and Nicola Walker’s long-married couple, Ian and Emma. It started with an argument about a jacket potato, didn’t really let up and I gobbled the

Review: Despite the presence of Sean Bean and Nicola Walker, new BBC series Marriage makes material for a divorce
I was really hoping to like Marriage (BBC1, Sun/Mon, 9pm), the new drama from Stefan Golaszewski, the creator of the wonderfully wistful Mum.
Unfortunately, like a relationship headed for the rocks, me and Marriage just couldn’t get on.

 Despite having Nicola Walker and Sean Bean as long-time married couple Emma and Ian – two of the best low-key actors you could dream of – this four-part series had a really odd, queasy undercurrent that I still can’t quite put my finger on.

From daughter Jessica’s controlling new boyfriend Adam, through Emma’s oleaginous boss Jamie to the obvious bad blood between Emma, her father and her brother, many of the supporting characters were just really unpleasant, and left you watching on the edge of your seat, sure that something bad was about to happen.

I defy you to watch a scene between Jamie and his firm’s new intern, tasting wine in Jamie’s flat, without feeling a shudder run down your spine.

And then there is Ian’s slightly odd behaviour around women – the receptionist at the leisure centre, a fellow job interviewee. If you didn’t know him, you’d definitely keep on eye on him.

The script is sharp on those micro-aggressions that mean nothing in the early stages of a relationship, but gradually go on to represent everything you’ve come to dislike about your partner – even if it just an obsession with jacket potatoes – while Walker and Bean are excellent as two people who have lost all their confidence.

But I couldn’t get past that weird atmosphere, and while I’m sure it’s not you, it’s me, I’m afraid me and Marriage are heading for a divorce.

« Last Edit: August 19, 2022, 12:11:40 PM by patch »

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Re: Marriage reviews
« Reply #11 on: August 20, 2022, 01:25:25 AM »
BBC One’s Marriage episode 3 review: the series continues to confront the tricky and uncomfortable side of love

BBC One’s Marriage continues to explore the highs and lows of a long-term relationship but episode three makes for the most uncomfortable part of the series so far, according to one Stylist writer.

Warning: this article contains spoilers for BBC’s Marriage episode three.

So far, BBC’s Marriage has been a quiet success of a series. It’s a non-flashy romantic drama that succeeds in what it sets out to do: show us a realistic and accurate portrayal of the rollercoaster that long-term relationships can be. That’s a major part of the reason why many viewers (including us) have loved it so much.

The third episode – which is available to watch on BBC iPlayer and airs on BBC One this coming Sunday 21 August – is where things start to heat up in the series. We’ve watched on as Ian (Sean Bean) has grown increasingly dissatisfied with his newfound life of redundancy, we’ve seen Emma (Nicola Walker) grow distant and we’ve even played witness to their daughter Jessica’s (Chantelle Alle) own tumultuous relationship. Now, the tension starts to pick up in Marriage and as Emma goes on the anticipated work convention that Ian loudly objects to, you can’t help but wonder what she really wants from the trip.

Throughout the short series, we’ve seen Emma grow coyer and more nervous around her manager Jamie (Henry Lloyd-Hughes), but she has kept it strictly professional. With the prospect of a night away – something that she has done regularly for work before – Ian’s newfound jealousy rears its head once more. He never used to have a problem with Emma staying away, she explains, so what’s different now? Unfortunately, Ian doesn’t have an answer. Instead, he makes comments about why Emma feels the need to sleep over in a hotel instead of in her own home. It’s plain to see that Ian’s new life of job applications, rejection, uncertainty and unexpected feelings of being emasculated has culminated in the way we knew it would – trying to assert dominance over his wife. But we know Emma a little better now and she’s having none of it.

She ignores his pleading requests and goes on her trip, but you can tell that something shifts within her during it. Where once she looked at Jamie with fondness and curiosity, his swearing at the hotel staff over the lack of bath in his room, his rudeness and ‘jokes’ about her losing her job start to make her feel uneasy. We question throughout the episode whether she will actually go to this hotel room after the events of the day draw to a close and in a flashback scene once she’s home, we find out that she actually did – but it’s not what we think.

Instead of putting the wheels in motion for an affair, Emma is confronted with the very real image of Jamie instead: someone who may appear as cocky and charming but is actually insecure over his family, gets drunk and takes drugs to mask his pain. It’s not the kind of scene that makes you feel sorry for him, though. If anything, you watch on as Emma has to navigate lewd comments from Jamie about the two of them being in the room alone together. All the while, you just wish she’d leave but actually, you realise that sometimes you need to ride out your own inner voice – the one that tempts us with the prospect that the grass is greener on the other side, for example – to make up your own mind. 

This third episode is not only another example of a stellar performance from Walker, but it’s also a confronting look at the complete low points within a relationship. When Ian’s envy starts peeking through, as it has done in previous episodes, he turns to the solace of the leisure centre. Rather, he goes back to lingering around Maxine (Ella Augustin) again. The young leisure centre assistant was previously made to feel uncomfortable in the first episode and we knew the plotline would be revisited again. Ian’s awkward persona is the kind that is often brushed off as being well-meaning but his presence visibly makes Maxine nervous.

This time round, he complains about getting his coin stuck in a locker but when Maxine goes to help, she finds that it’s the same locker that has been explicitly marked as being out of use. It seems like a deliberate ploy to get Maxine alone, something that makes for an incredibly awkward scene. Just what is Ian hoping to do? What are his intentions here? While we don’t get an answer – Maxine’s male colleague steps in to help instead – it’s obvious that, in times of feeling lonely or sidelined by his own wife, Ian seems to resort to talking to strangers for prolonged periods of time and not realising that he makes them uncomfortable in the process.

At the end of the episode, Ian’s feelings come to a head and he breaks down crying. “This isn’t you – it’s fucking weird … You’re up to your fucking tits in self-pity,” Emma tells him.

While the couple eventually laugh about it and choose to work through it, the scene offers viewers a window into feelings that many of us can sympathise with. Whether it’s feelings of inadequacy, uncertainty or self-pity, Ian and Emma’s relationship contains elements of all three. And once again, Marriage shows us that it’s perfectly normal for a relationship to contain these difficult-to-navigate elements – confirming that the series is one of the most realistic on TV right now.

Episode three of Marriage airs on BBC One on Sunday 21 August at 9pm, with all episodes available to watch on BBC iPlayer.

MARRIAGE (BBC SERIES - Episode 1) Live Review

MARRIAGE (BBC Series Episode 2) The BOXSET Bingers REVIEW


'New BBC show Marriage is a clever, painfully truthful observation of everyday life'

If marriage rates in the UK take a sudden nosedive, the BBC may well be responsible. “God, if this is married life, I want no part in it,” tweeted one viewer.

Marriage, starring Sean Bean and Nicola Walker, has firmly split the audience with its unbelievably realistic depiction of a three-decade relationship and all the mundane intimacy that comes with it.

 From the simmering tension while loading the dishwasher, to an argument over a jacket potato that escalates to epic proportions (it wasn’t about the potato, it’s never about the potato…) and discussions about holey underwear, those in long-term relationships will relate.

With a purposely slow, quiet script, penned by brilliant Mum writer Stefan Golaszewski, this compelling portrait of a marriage was tedious for some.

Personally I could watch Sean Bean mess around with the WiFi router or load the dishwasher for ages – and he does.

Nicola Walker’s strained looks and clipped sentences are equally captivating. It’s thanks to the powerful performances of the two leads that this style works.

There are discussions about the outrage of paying for sachets of ketchup, what to eat for tea and watch on telly, what jacket to buy online, and long stretches where no one actually says anything at all.

But the reality is that while nothing is happening, underneath the surface, there’s pain and trauma and big, scary, unspoken feelings.

Ian has recently been made redundant and doesn’t know what to do with his days.

This doesn’t help his paranoia about Emma’s smarmy, horrid, flirty boss Jamie.

Emma is trying to do well at work but juggling Ian’s feelings, Jamie’s ego and a workplace where she clearly doesn’t fit in.

Their adopted daughter Jessica (Chantelle Alle) is dating a controlling moron, Emma’s father (James Bolam) is demanding and difficult and there’s also a deep-seated grief about the loss of their baby.

There’s actually a lot going on. It’s a slow-moving, emotional drama, with all the frustrations and tensions hidden in little looks and glances – not great big showdowns. It’s not exciting, but it’s not supposed to be.

And the jarring theme tune that turned off many viewers… it’s supposed to make you feel uncomfortable and unnerved, just like the marriage playing out ­before you.

Even in the moments where the “action” slows to snail pace, it’s impossible to look away.

This is a clever, painfully truthful observation of marriage and all the positives and negatives and ups and downs that come with it.

A divisive, debated show is often a good one, and I’m fully committed.

SARAH VINE's My TV Week: Marriage is slow, stark... but it's completely brilliant
Marriage, starring Sean Bean and Nicola Walker, is one of those shows that people are either going to think is a work of sublime genius – or a drawn-out, self-indulgent load of old cobblers. I'm coming down firmly on the side of genius.

It's written by Stefan Golaszewski, who also authored Mum, the beautifully understated, hilarious and tragic in equal measure sitcom featuring Lesley Manville as a recently widowed woman negotiating life alone. This series is very similar in style and scope, and is supported by an equally fine cast of British acting talent.

Golaszewski is a master of finding meaning in the most fleeting of moments, the most throwaway, seemingly insignificant lines. So much of the action and meaning is in the spaces between his writing, and that's what lends his work such bittersweet humour and melancholy realism.

He is unflinching in his observations of human behaviour, of how it's the mundane, the everyday that weaves the true fabric of existence. There are no dramatic fireworks here, only tiny, white-hot moments of intensity that bore their way into your soul.

Most on-screen love stories tend to be fraught with moments of high drama. Not so here. This is about a very ordinary, everyday kind of love, the kind built on a million small gestures, a lifetime of mutual experiences: memories, mistakes, victories, regrets, triumphs and tragedies.

Sometimes it seems so fragile it could crumble to dust in seconds; other times it's an impregnable fortress.

Few writers manage to capture the intricate complexity of human relationships like Golaszewski. There are moments that mean everything and nothing at all.

After a stupid row about a baked potato in an airport lounge, Bean's character, Ian, grasps his wife Emma's hand tightly across the aisle in the aeroplane and the tension evaporates.

Later on at home, their daughter, who is adopted, announces she's bringing a new boyfriend home for supper. Silently, the couple clear a few boxes out of her childhood bedroom, their movements almost telepathically synchronised.

When Emma visits her father we witness the casual bitterness of family ties, the way just a few words can re-open the oldest and deepest of wounds in seconds.

I won't lie: it is slow, painfully slow at times. But that itself is part of the drama, the way large parts of the action are taken up with just being.

It's about an ordinary kind of love, the kind built on a million small gestures
And much of its success relies on the brilliance and skill of the actors, who really are outstanding.

Bean delivers a heartbreaking performance as a man struggling to hold on to his identity as father, husband, provider. His mother has just died, he has just lost his job: two major pillars of his existence have crumbled, and he's leaning hard on the remaining one, wife Emma.

He spends a lot of time just standing, uncertain, anxious, awkward in this new skin.

Walker's intensity is perfectly suited to her character, sweet one moment, sour the next. Her outward resilience masks her inner exhaustion and anxiety.

She carries the pain of a lost child, and the worry of her daughter, prey to an obnoxious, gaslighting boyfriend.

Like I said, it's slow and it's stark. But it's also completely brilliant.

« Last Edit: August 23, 2022, 02:52:04 PM by patch »

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Re: Marriage reviews
« Reply #12 on: August 21, 2022, 01:36:51 AM »
BBC’s Marriage: Nicola Walker deserves better than Sean Bean
He’s been married five times — so why is he so bad at playing a husband?

Marriage arrives on our screens: it is a four-part drama about a couple in late middle age. Most people will tune into this sort of thing in the hope of arguments, tears, affairs, tension, anger — it is the televisual equivalent of clickbait.

What they probably don’t want to watch is Sean Bean mumbling about bowel movements.

What satisfaction must this sexy, swaggering former Bond villain derive from monologues about “ketchup” and what his wife’s “tummy” is up to now? Bean plays the show’s husband, Ian; part of the reason to watch it is to find

Married misery has replaced the romcom
With television and film obsessed with sad relationships, Jonathan Dean yearns for a cheesy love story
Last week, millions watched Sean Bean and Nicola Walker eat takeaway and argue as their relationship, in the BBC four-parter Marriage, very possibly falls apart. The opening episode contains a lengthy, intricate row about a potato. A few switched off, saying it was “boring”. The word they were looking for was “awkward”.

Whatever happened to fun? We used to watch romance on TV and in movies for a laugh; comedies that offered wish-fulfilment meet-cute stories to pull us from our own relationship drudgery. Now, that woe is just being thrust back in our faces and instead of a new When Harry Met Sally, we are given Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson ripping each other’s hearts to bits in Marriage Story. While, on

Alison Rowat's TV review: Marriage; Long Lost Family: What Happened Next; Britain's Secret War Babies; Afghanistan: Getting Out
HOW are you? I feel I should ask having just watched Marriage (BBC1, Sunday-Monday), one of the most disturbing television experiences of the year (and I speak as someone who has sat through all the Tory leadership debates).

Anyone expecting a reprise of writer-director Stefan Golaszewski’s delicately bittersweet comedy Mum would have been in for a shock.

It looked reassuringly normal from the outside. Nicola Walker and Sean Bean (we like them) played Emma and Ian, a couple about to celebrate 27 years together. The trailer had them getting smoochy and Ian pausing the passion to switch on the dishwasher. Married life, eh? Ian and Emma as the noughties version of Terry and June? Bring it on.

The opening scene set the tone for what was to follow. Ian and Emma were at the airport, having lunch, before boarding a plane home from holiday. A quiet bicker began over a missing jacket potato. Ian always had one. Emma hadn’t even asked.

By the time the pair were fastening seatbelts the fight had escalated to Defcon 2, complete with swearing. Yet as the plane took off he grabbed her hand like a man who has lost his grip on a cliff edge. It was not about the baked potato, not really. It was about his fear of flying and his need for routine as a way of feeling in control.

Golaszewski was just getting started. We were introduced to Emma’s father (the great James Bolam), who thinks his daughter is being controlled by her husband; the couple’s singer-songwriter daughter, who is being controlled by her new boyfriend; and Emma’s boss, a sleazy solicitor out to control her. All this control of women by men going on, while everyone looks as if they are about to blow their collective top.

It was unnerving, as was the glacial pace, the long pauses in dialogue, and a weird track that played now and then and sounded like instructions to a dance. What was with Emma’s rage? Or the way the pair kissed passionately in public? Had they never recovered from the tragedy in the past?

 Some just won’t fancy Marriage much. It did feel at times as though there had been some mistake and primetime BBC1 was showing a three-hour Polish arthouse film without subtitles.

But I loved its merciless accuracy. You had to stop nodding in recognition at all the little details lest your head dropped off by episode end. It was a portrait of a marriage, sure, but it was also a warning about power and control, who has it, who does not, and what happens when the order of things is challenged.

TV to talk about, that kept you guessing. When was the last time that happened? But yes, if you were in the mood for something light it would have been a downer.

ALEXANDRA SHULMAN'S NOTEBOOK: Finding real pleasure in the quiet side of Marriage
The BBC’s four-part series Marriage has been widely admired for the way it portrays the mundanity of real life.

A TV drama without kitchen islands and ocean views, designer clothes and hot sex. Now there’s a thing.

The five-star acclaim is for the pitch-perfect portrayal of a ‘normal’ couple, depicted in all their dull, repetitive, Lakeland catalogue hall furniture and saggy jim-jam lives.

And what should we conclude?

That all of this is really rather lovely. Marriage between two good people both short on interesting observations and a little repressed is a safe place, a bulwark against the bad stuff that happens in life.

Contrast this fictional drama to the real-life drama playing out in Manchester Crown Court involving Ryan Giggs and his ex-girlfriend Kate Greville.

Apart from a rather amusing mention of the footballer’s obsession with how to correctly load a dishwasher, evidence of what most of us would regard as normal life is pretty scarce.

In tandem with the recent Wagatha Christie case during which the Vardys and Rooneys sparred through social media and with displays of designer handbags, the somewhat insalubrious behaviour of WAGs might seem like fiction to most of us.

But it is reality. Even if at times you feel that you couldn’t make it up.

Conversely, the bog-standard, mutually supportive existence of the characters played by Sean Bean and Nicola Walker in Marriage is entirely fictional and cleverly designed to push all our buttons.

Unlike the world of Premier League footballers, which seems so alien, we can identify with this timid couple.

There is a kind of smug pleasure in the idea that our lives are better and purer for being played out in a quiet world like theirs, where we can take refuge in something as commonplace as a cuddle. Even though, recognisable as it is, that is still fiction.

That Roman hooter makes Sean so sexy

WHILE Sean Bean’s usual attractiveness is quite well disguised in Marriage, I think I’ve identified an ingredient of male sex appeal – a beaky nose.

Bean has the desirable, straight Roman kind of hooter – as does the appealing Adrian Dunbar who, along with his nose, is surely one of the main reasons many of us love Line Of Duty.

« Last Edit: August 21, 2022, 12:13:58 PM by patch »

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Re: Marriage reviews
« Reply #13 on: August 22, 2022, 09:10:23 AM »
BBC One’s Marriage episode 4 review: how the series finale nails this relatable family dynamic

The finale of BBC’s Marriage is upon us and the episode shows us that confronting problems as a family unit headfirst is more important than anything.

Warning: this article contains spoilers for the fourth and final episode of BBC One’s Marriage.

If one thing’s for certain, it’s that BBC One’s Marriage has got us all talking. Whether you’ve loved, respected or loathed the drama, it has definitely moved viewers in a big way.

While much of the drama has been quietly observational about Ian (Sean Bean) and Emma’s (Nicola Walker) marriage, this final episode sees the other characters and side plotlines take more of the spotlight. We get to see Ian and Emma in roles that don’t just revolve around them being husband and wife, and it’s a welcome shift in the pace of the series. But also, rather unexpectedly, it makes the final episode one full of confronting conversations.

Marriage was never going to end with a dramatic finale. There are no ultimatums or a big crescendo to anticipate; rather, the series does what it does best and makes you relate to a lot of it. Perhaps it’s because of the familial nature of the episode but the idea of “brushing things under the carpet” as a family is confronted throughout this finale.

The episode starts with Jessica (Chantelle Alle) moving out of the home she shares with her boyfriend. They’ve finally (thankfully) broken up, so her parents come to help her pack a suitcase, but as she and Emma wait outside, Ian goes in to retrieve her clothes.

We’re led to believe that Ian is a quiet and well-meaning man. As viewers, we’ve understood that this is not always true, but when Ian goes to pack his daughter’s things, he clearly can’t wait to tell Adam what he thinks of him. “Women are never actually as simple as they want you to think they are,” Adam says, making small talk. “Grow up,” Ian says not once, but twice, while packing Jessica’s clothes. He adds: “You treat people like a pig.”

The small quips of the final episode don’t stop there and pave the way for things previously left unsaid to finally come to light. Remember the third episode’s awkward hotel room scene with Emma and Jamie? Well, Emma has no reservations about telling her manager that she was disappointed in him and his drug-taking habit.

He laughs it off as being a “bit silly”, but Emma’s having none of it. “It’s morally bankrupt,” she explains. “It’s not silly, it’s repellent. You’re rotting your septum. You’re rotting the rest of your nose. And how do you think your drugs get to you? How do you think they get to you? Answer me,” she insists. “Fucking answer me.”

She presses: “Do you even think about the little boys that you’re dragging into gangs? Does that even cross your mind? Hundreds of little boys all over the country whose future’s going up your fucking nose?”

When Jamie says he’s “trying to do work” on himself, Emma tells him to “stop the drugs then – it’s pathetic. You’re like a child. And eating in bed? Jesus. You know, you laugh at Ian but he is a fucking good person. He is.” After her grilling, she turns to the matters of their meeting and later leaves Jamie’s office quietly triumphant wielding her bank card in the air, telling the young intern, Duncan, to fetch them all coffees, chocolate and crisps.

Another unexpected confrontation comes when a man named Dan comes to meet Jamie in the office. Dan is actually the father of young Emily who did work experience at their office a few weeks ago. “She says you had sex with her,” Dan says plainly when asked for work experience feedback.

He talks about how his 17-year-old daughter is upset about what happened and how Jamie has been ignoring her WhatsApp messages. But when asked what he wants from Jamie, Dan simply says, “I don’t know,” proving that often, confronting a situation can just be about getting closure, rather than a definitive outcome.

In the more family-focused parts of the final episode, though, confrontations unfold that are both heartwarming and necessarily awkward. When Ian unveils the letter he wrote to Jessica when she was just a baby, he explains the feelings around her adoption and the hard journey it was for all of them. She cries when she reads it and you can tell it’s the kind of conversation that has never taken place in their household.

It’s something that is relatable for many who will watch the episode. When you’re used to burying feelings or thoughts in a family setting, you create an environment where this emotional rawness is more random than anything – and it’s a sentiment that Jessica expresses to Emma. “I just think there’s so many things we don’t even talk about,” she tells her mother. She mentions the fact that Nicholas – Emma and Ian’s son – died and how they never speak about it, but also the fact that her mother is amazing, regardless of how other people may make her feel.

Jessica adds: “We need to say these things. I think we need to be a lot more open in our family.” But it’s when she starts to ask her mother questions about Nicholas’ birth and subsequent death that Emma breaks down and sobs. Her crying is completely unexpected, but the quick scene change to the next day is such an accurate depiction of how things move quickly in a family that you’re almost left to laugh.

The final episode, like the rest of the series, provides us with just enough of a snapshot into Emma and Ian’s life to make us sympathise, laugh and shake our heads along with them. But the series has continuously shown that squaring up to the problems at hand is what makes a relationship – be it that of a lover, partner or parent – that much stronger.

The final fourth episode of Marriage airs on BBC One tonight at 9pm, with all episodes available to stream on BBC iPlayer now.

Marriage finale review — this drudgery was almost a thing of beauty
If you made it to the final episode of Marriage then you are clearly not in the camp that rushed to social media to cry: “It’s so boring/turgid/depressing! I’d rather watch my tea towels boil in a pan.” Well, their loss. Because look what they missed. Emma applying out-of-date cream to a rash on Ian’s scrotum (possibly caused by his “revitalising” shower gel), bickering over supermarket chicken, Emma asking Ian not to breathe in her face as they lay in bed, the long, long silences.

If that doesn’t sound entirely thrilling (even though it kind of was) how about the Bafta-worthy genius of James Bolam’s facial expressions as Emma’s peevish, conniving, lonely elderly father? As he watched, sadly and enviously, his granddaughter

The Times view on the BBC’s drama Marriage: A Perfect Union

Nothing much about Ian and Emma, the protagonists of the BBC drama Marriage, is all that remarkable. Husband and wife for 27 years, their lot is the quiet, if not uncomplicated, kind of suburban contentment familiar to so many couples of a certain age. They bicker over bins and airport meals. Jealousies and resentments simmer, grief gnaws. Every takeaway, faulty wifi connection or new bottle of shampoo assumes historic significance. The burdens of late middle age — ageing relatives, stagnant careers and temperamental children — are borne with varying degrees of success. But they are borne together.

Glamorous it is not. Viewers yearning for escapism should look elsewhere. How rare it is to see such things on British television. Tonight the series, rightly acclaimed

« Last Edit: August 23, 2022, 02:54:29 PM by patch »

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Re: Marriage reviews
« Reply #14 on: August 26, 2022, 06:55:32 AM »
This reviewer actually thinks that "Emma is half-heartedly pursuing her caddish boss"😳, which just shows that he's got the story wrong, which means you needn't bother to read this review.

The utter misery of BBC’s Marriage
This is kitchen sink drama from the plughole's perspective

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Re: Marriage reviews
« Reply #15 on: August 27, 2022, 08:36:48 AM »

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Re: Marriage reviews
« Reply #16 on: August 30, 2022, 03:11:14 PM »
Two superb actors in Sean Bean and Nicole Walker bring to life the ordinariness of a long term relationship in all its beauty and foibles.
Marriage is quite an extraordinary work.

It’s a study of a middle-aged couple in extreme levels of ordinariness.

But writer / director Stefan Golaszewski (Mum, Him & Her) also tells his story in between the cracks, in small moments of everyday negotiation and compromise.

There’s no inciting incident -to the contrary it begins over an argument about jacket potatoes as Ian (Sean Bean) and Emma (Nicola Walker) conclude their holiday. An inordinate amount of screen time is given over to a discussion about potatoes as we establish this lower middle-class couple in their 50s.

Ian has been made redundant and yet to find his new purpose in life. Emma has an office job with condescending workmates, but seeks to free herself from the weight of those around her.

Both are parents to Jessica (Chantelle Alle) a black daughter they adopted as a baby, 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 struggles to connect with his daughter without saying the wrong thing.

Emma is also resented by her ageing father (James Bolam) who snaps, “How can you honestly ask me if I’ve had a good time when it was you who abandoned me?”


A number of scenes are shot in wide lens, as Golaszewski highlights lone figures in vast spaces. But they are full of truth, such as characters stopping to pick up rubbish and put it in a bin -who does that on TV?

Scenes often feel inconsequential, as moments in time juxtaposed with one another, yet the sum of the parts makes for a satisfying whole.

The performances of Sean Bean and Nicole Walker and beautifully underplayed to the point of feeling improvised (I suspect it’s fully scripted). At times I was reminded of the naturalistic work of Mike Leigh in pieces such as Secrets & Lies.

 One scene with Ian attending a local gym and chatting to a receptionist brilliantly captures a collision of worlds and intent, where old ways are misconstrued by new ways. They highlight Ian’s diminishing purpose and understanding in a constantly-evolving modern society.

For some this will feel like a story waiting to happen. Or what a drama might look like if cameras followed Goggleboxers away from the couch -pretty ordinary. Shopping. Waiting in a queue. Packing the dishwasher. Brushing teeth.

Yet Marriage also brings attention to how two humans connect and depend on one another, celebrating true love in a dichotomy with true frustration / fear / boredom.

And you get to study two superb actors creating a three dimensional dynamic that could be as real as your own parents.

Marriage screens 8:30pm Saturday on ABC.

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Re: Marriage reviews
« Reply #17 on: September 03, 2022, 01:45:31 AM »
Sean Bean and Nicola Walker’s Marriage makes me feel like part of a Hollywood power couple
A drama that shows in excruciating detail the stultifying reality of a lifelong marriage. Yet it’s the details in this story that make it so mesmerising, writes Lucy Sweet.

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Re: Marriage reviews
« Reply #18 on: October 11, 2022, 03:50:16 AM »
Not always easy, but the ‘real’ Marriage is a TV trip worth taking
It’s hard to imagine actors other than Walker (who invested with melancholy every on-screen moment across four seasons of Unforgotten) and Bean (most recently seen in the menacing prison drama Time) pulling off this kind of naturalism or balance between tedium and joy. Both have the ability to signal the deeper waters coursing through silences and to deliver lines rife with overt and covert meanings.

Chances are that not all viewers will last the journey of Marriage. It’s not that Golaszewski eschews what are probably the expected norms of a drama of this type (late-life epiphanies or, as is the fashion in TV today, an affair in Tuscany), though he certainly expects that viewers will lean into the stubborn pauses and unhurried pace.

Marriage poses an unusual conundrum — how “real” can a realistic drama afford to be? What he ultimately celebrates here is the steadfastness of two decent, principled and devoted people who have shared ups and downs and found solace and comfort in each other’s company.

The viewer has to work for the redemptive comeuppances in Marriage. Though for some it may be a bridge too far, when the moments arrive they are all the more rewarding for the journey to get there. A bit like life or marriage itself.

Marriage is on ABC iview.