First it depends, but then he turns, seduces and despises the character of Jessica Chastain, one of the young and most beautiful and talented Hollywood actresses of this century. Both star Scenes from a marriage, the brilliant adaptation of Bergman’s classic that HBO transmits. Isaac plays a complex man, who travels from submission to awakening of his individuality and masculinity through abandonment, manages his lowest passions and exercises his fatherhood at all costs.
It is Oscar Isaac the actor who gives life to Jonathan, the renewed character that Erland Josephson played in 1974 in the original Swedish play. But this time, that Johan, as his name was, is today the one who receives with thunderous surprise that his wife has fallen in love with another. It will be your emotional independence that is called into question, it will be man the abandoned and the submissive, and being reborn from that journey will be his odyssey.
Look, instead, who was Marianne in Bergman’s play, lavishly performed by Liv Ullman in 1974, is now the one who makes the brave decision to undo that seemingly perfect marriage, but deeply suffocating in its underground waters. The challenge is embodied by the majestic Jessica Chastain, in what is surely the most ambitious challenge of her career.
How to handle in the 21st century, in a liberal environment, where traditional assumptions have moved from their historical roles, abandonment, dependency and betrayal, without resorting to the simplistic resources of melodrama and Manichaeism? Dramatically, that is already a practically literary challenge. Very difficult to translate into the art of directing (an Olympiad whose director, Hagai Levi, achieves with impeccable subtlety and complexity, alongside art and audio design).
But there was an even greater challenge: interpreting the journey of that male, dependent and attached psychology, with the courage of someone who does not shout twice to express their anger and is over, but has the courage to look in the mirror and wonder why this is happening to me, and be able to swallow the toad of putting the answers.
This is the extraordinary mission that was entrusted to Oscar Isaac, and look that he achieved and surpassed it by far.
It is not free. Isaac has had a life of long distances (his origin and his current location are truly distant) and, perhaps, precisely because of that, his bets have been those of a guy who has experienced as the trips are made one step after another.
Let his own career say so, whose first appearance dates back to 1998 in Illtown, a low-cost film that narrated the adventures of a drug cartel, where he played an unnamed character (“pool boy”), to a Golden Globe nomination for best actor in 2013 for his starring role in Inside Llewyn Davis, of the Coen brothers. Perhaps his persistence lies in knowing the risks, as he once said in an interview: “the most difficult thing is to put yourself in the front line, again and again, to risk failure.”
Born in Guatemala to a Cuban mother, Isaac, whose original name is Oscar Isaac Hernández, studied at Miami Dade College and had a brief and successful musical career in the band The blinking underdogs, which went on to open Green Day concerts.
His acting beginnings occurred in the Area Stage group, one of the most recognized theatrical organizations in South Florida, but his definitive leap, which involved giving up music, occurred when fHe was accepted to the Julliard School in New York in 2001.
It would be worth it if each reader could verify it for himself, but we can look at the record of the reviews that some critics have made of Isaac’s performance. CNN’s Brian Lowry admits that Isaac leaves “everything on the ground.” NPR’s Linda Holmes considers him a “fantastic performer”. Linda Cooper of the LA Times lists him as an “excellent actor.”
All this (the notoriety of the performance, in such an acclaimed piece) also occurs without this condescending speech mediating in which your Latino condition causes your evaluators to give you some preferential treatment for being a minority or from an immigrant family.
It is pure talent, without fillers. And the vocation: “I like to be like a chameleon that transforms itself, every time I take on a character.”
Isaac’s fate, which bears little resemblance to Jonathan’s, by the way, is forged by his own work and undoubtedly by the difference that education, both formal and family (his father is a doctor, his brother a journalist, his sister a scientist), and discipline made in him.
At 47, the career of Jonathan de Levi, this second rebirth of that Jonah de Bergman, is just beginning. Acting, being one of the hardest jobs for which someone can feel a vocation, youHe has the nobility of making actors better as age passes.
Much more if your professional life is not marred by the vanities of fame. “I am not interested in the celebrity”, has already made it clear on a couple of occasions, “my private life I definitely want to be private.”
There is a small olympus of Latino actors, a small list that includes Raul Julia, Javier Bardem, Gael García, Edgar Ramírez, Antonio Banderas, Benicio del Toro, Demián Bichir, Edward James Olmos and not many more, who have earned their own place in the antipodes of Hollywood. It seems that Isaac wants to add his name to that club.
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Oscar Isaac, the Guatemalan-born actor who shines in Hollywood but is not seduced by fame