What does he want here in the hipster café “mouth feeling”? There are a hundred different varieties of the brown brew there, including “Kopilua,” made from beans that cats shit out of. Scott the old man with the quiff (Brendan Gleeson) just wants a coffee with milk. He plants himself in front of barmaid Jay (Esco Jouley).
Things are about to get serious: a culture war between the best agers (a euphemism for an old bag) and the barista. Jay doesn’t feel like a woman or a man. The situation is tense. If Ellen (Patricia Clarkson), still married to Scott despite the physical separation, hadn’t entered the café for couple therapy, the feeling in her mouth would have turned into tooth loss.
Ellen and Scott have a ten minute meeting at the coffee shop before therapy session. The second season of “State of the Union” can be seen in the ARD media library. Series creator Nick Hornby and director Stephen Frears have produced a highly intelligent and highly melancholic piece of television: all ten episodes are only ten minutes long, but dense and behind rhetorical elegance and comedy from the purest fabric of myth.
You can see two people on Odysseus tour (mouth feel-more appropriately formulated: on Odysseus and Odysseusinnen tour). The whole tragedy: he left too early, she too late. He lived through the early days of the relationship with Ellen, when the children came, armored in smugness. Raised money as a manager. Bullied everything else his wife was interested in with his interest in golf and American history. Penelope-Ellen endured all the trips to Troy she had gleaned from the TV, dutifully attended the heroic memorial visits on real trips to Europe and was silent when the man worshiped his demigod Churchill.
But one day Ellen got the wanderlust. Of course he didn’t notice. It was the moment when the sofa hero refused to go to the movie “The Nobel Prize Winner’s Wife” with Ellen. His refusal – based only on the title – showed Ellen the whole incorrigible macho at her side of the sofa. Scott didn’t want to see the oppression that a literary star inflicts on his wife. Ellen said nothing, but her patience was at an end. An uncovered Circe experience in the couple’s New York apartment with women without depth, which was ultimately unsatisfactory for Scott, gave Ellen the chance to separate. When the new episode picks up, Scott is headed back to Ithaca, where Ellen is changing everything. The suitors, who are cheeky at Homer, have become Ellen’s helpers in freeing Scott, who still believes in preventing the divorce and returning to the perch on the sofa. There are now hip outsiders and meaning-seeking esoterics and no yesterday’s dominating types.
But defending women’s independence is not easy. Ellen is not a monster, the therapy tough. But gradually: his tolerance for feminist phrasing and hip hypes is growing. The block becomes a sidekick and yes, we feel sorry for a slippered Odysseus who missed the boat. Brendan Gleeson manages to show desperation between the polished lines of dialogue, as does Patricia Clarkson. When Ellen’s resolve to divorce falters – it always does – Clarkson demonstrates her ability to stay above the screen. She can hide her grief and sometimes jealousy from Scott, but not from the audience.
The most wonderful thing in this parting piece is the farewell to sexuality. Despite infidelity and suspicion of infidelity, the dissolution of the marriage shows that those who finally divorced possessed something wonderful. Something that Kant rudely, severely criticized but aptly described in his definition of marriage as a “contract for the mutual use of property and sexual instruments”.
Marriage, that is to say, and the sexuality within it, is not subject to any external purpose, be it a procreative obligation or dynastic constraints. Sexuality is the property of married couples only. Ellen and Scott know that.
They sleep together. But they recognize that the marriage alone will not be saved.