Rating: NR.† Nudity, language.† In Swedish with English subtitles
Run Time: 2 hours, 35 minutes
Ingmar Bergman is alive and well, and airing his oh-so-compelling dirty laundry onscreen courtesy of director, and ex-Muse, Liv Ullmann.† This untidy tale of the painful rigors of divorce is a mesmerizing work, exploring the darkest recesses of the human spirit.
Bergmanís script is an autobiographical portrait of passion and infidelity.† It begins with an aging writer named Bergman (Erland Josephson) summoning the ghost of a romantic past. His vision appears to aid him in writing a script chronicling an erstwhile passion turned to dust.† In† flashback form we are introduced to Marianne (Lena Endre), a cheerful, well-adjusted actress married to an internationally famous conductor, Markus (Thomas Hanzon).† Marianne and Markus dote on their daughter Isabelle, and surround themselves with good friends and family.† During a Parisian business trip, and somewhat on a lark, Marianne and Markusí best friend David (Krister Henriksson) yield to temptation and surrender themselves to a reckless love affair. Itís a clumsy and squalid beast of a relationship Ė fumbling, aggressive, and poignant.
Ultimately, Markus finds out about the assignation and confronts the bemused couple.† He demands a divorce, with ominous taunts of retaining sole custody of Isabelle.† The simple origins of an innocuous affair ignite an all-consuming conflagration, threatening to annihilate a marriage, a deep friendship, and an innocent child.
The force of energy that flows from the screen springs from so many sources, itís difficult to know where one stops and another begins.† The ravages of confrontation and jealousy that worm their way into a seemingly stable marriage.† A sordid partnership thatís impossible to surrender. The emotional disintegration of a child caught in the ugly crossfire. Add to the heightened sentiment the staggering force of Endreís performance, a sublimely emotive blend of subtle facial movements and increasingly hostile discourses.† The ghost of Bergman hovers over all, laying itself open to the bitterness of failed relationships.† The Swedish dialogue is subtly deceptive, with a gorgeous lilting tone that belies the jarring nature of the material. Ullmann, a Bergman fixture, has an innate understanding of her subject, and it shows.