Beyond Brangelina: Mr. & Mrs. Smith Rebooted for a New Generation

Now when we utter the amalgamation ‘Brangelina’, it might elude many as to its origin – it denotes the apex couple of Hollywood during that era, none other than Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Their dual presence commanded the spotlight, prompting the media to coin this portmanteau. This genesis traces back to their collaboration in the film ‘Mr. and Mrs. Smith’ (2005), a cinematic triumph overshadowed by the disdain it garnered from Pitt’s erstwhile partner, Jennifer Aniston, and her supporters.

Presently, Pitt and Jolie have long parted ways. Any subsequent appearance together would inevitably revolve around ceaseless litigation and contention. Nevertheless, the phrase ‘Mr. and Mrs. Smith’ persists. As I mature and bear witness to the remarkable battles of intellect and valor waged by diverse couples, I shall etch ‘Mr. and Mrs. Smith’ into the recesses of my heart. Remarkably, a remake under the same title is slated for release in 2024, perhaps underscoring the transient nature of youthful allure and beauty, while underscoring the enduring toil inherent in matrimony – a relentless struggle, if not an interminable one.

The television adaptation of ‘Mr. and Mrs. Smith’ has captivated audiences worldwide, earning accolades on Amazon Prime across 130 countries and territories. Unlike contemporaneous hits such as ‘Fargo Season 5’ or ‘True Detective 4: Kingdom of the Night’, initial skepticism surrounding the series only served to heighten its allure. Its denouement was nothing short of revelatory, prompting a swift reversal in critical reception, reflected in its impressive 90% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, surpassing its cinematic counterpart.

Initial reservations regarding the series stemmed primarily from its classic lineage, despite originating almost two decades prior in film. I vividly recall the proliferation of illicit DVD vendors, their storefronts adorned with posters depicting Pitt and Jolie, each radiant, each extending a graceful limb. Admittedly, the actors portraying the titular characters in the series may not exude the same magnetic charm as Brangelina at their zenith. Yet, this deliberate divergence underscores the series’ intent, shifting focus from the romantic ideal of immaculate beauty to the tumultuous dynamics inherent in real-world relationships. Myths may fade, but life remains timeless.

This thematic underpinning was manifest from the outset: a strikingly handsome couple of agents, weary of a life on the lam, elect to confront their pursuers, only to meet a swift demise. Such a narrative departure is nothing short of audacious. Viewers have grown accustomed to the tacit convention on screen that beauty begets impunity, yet this deliberate subversion signals a covenant anew: love, in the revised narrative of ‘Mr. and Mrs. Smith’, proves ineffectual against the relentless machinations of the world.

The portrayal of the new Mr. Smith, portrayed by Donald Glover, who also assumes roles as writer and director, is a tour de force. His accolades in the realm of music are as illustrious as his on-screen endeavors. Fans of American television would undoubtedly recognize his wry countenance from his roles in ‘The Lost Boys’ and ‘Atlanta’. Glover’s portrayal exudes a newfound gravitas, lending credence to his character’s credibility as an agent.

Conversely, Maya Erskine’s depiction of the new Mrs. Smith, exhibits a subtlety that belies her relative obscurity. Her portrayal is marked by a naturalism and ease eclipsing even her male counterpart. This may perhaps be attributed to the intricate social and psychological quandaries confronting a middle-aged Asian woman, affording the actress ample room for interpretation. During her character’s interview, she candidly acknowledges her ostracization by the CIA due to her ‘antisocial personality’. The interview footage portrays her as a resolute yet vulnerable figure, bereft of artifice. Despite her professional acumen, her financial independence remains tenuous, a stark testament to the gendered inequities entrenched within society.

The marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Smith, ostensibly a sham, serves as a microcosm of the existential plight endured by women in middle age. Work and marriage emerge as twin fetters, indispensable yet suffocating. In this symbiotic relationship, Mrs. Smith emerges as the more entangled and tragic figure, her isolation rendered all the more poignant by her financial dependence on her spouse.

The ostensible facade of their marriage gives way to an unexpected metamorphosis, as the series eschews the protracted courtship in favor of an expedited progression towards genuine affection. This marks not the culmination, but rather the commencement of their trials. The series’ denouement serves as a stark reminder that love, though a potent elixir, is powerless against the machinations of fate.

The series’ penultimate episode, wherein Mr. and Mrs. Smith seek counsel from a psychological therapist, serves as a poignant exploration of their shared vulnerabilities. Despite their attempt to normalize their union, they soon realize that the ideal of marital normalcy is a fallacy. In their candid exchange, they confront their insecurities, only to be met with facile counsel. Their conflict remains unresolved, culminating in a symbolic conflagration that underscores the irreconcilable chasm between them.

The inclusion of Yoko Ono’s haunting composition during the climactic conflagration serves as a stark indictment of familial dysfunction. Indeed, the prospect of parenthood, in the hands of such flawed individuals, would likely engender a legacy of resentment and despair. The incendiary act serves as a cathartic release, a defiant repudiation of societal norms and expectations.

The series’ denouement, marked by a poignant commentary on contemporary mores, eschews sentimentality in favor of unflinching realism. The Smiths’ survival serves not as a triumph, but rather as a somber testament to the fragility of human bonds. The prospect of a second season, while enticing, offers no solace in a world where even the most steadfast of unions teeters on the brink of collapse.

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