Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.
Original title: Ansikte Mot Ansikte
Sweden/Italy, 1976. Cinematograph AB, Sveriges Radio. Screenplay by Ingmar Bergman. Cinematography by Sven Nykvist. Produced by Lars-Owe Carlberg. Production Design by Anne Hagegard, Peter Kropenin. Film Editing by Siv Lundgren. Academy Awards 1976. Golden Globe Awards 1976. National Board of Review Awards 1976. New York Film Critics Awards 1976.
Mildly successful drama by Ingmar Bergman probes the female psyche but features too many ridiculous flourishes to be taken too seriously. Liv Ullmann is excellent as an emotionally fragile psychiatrist whose sanity is slowly breaking down as she succumbs to the disturbing experiences that made up her troubled childhood. This also has an adverse effect on her marriage to a man who is himself a doctor, and we watch as she goes through her days and some rather odd encounters while trying to resist her mind’s descent into madness. It’s a lot graver than most Hollywood films ever dare to be, particularly on the subject of mental illness, and Ullmann’s acting can’t be faulted for a second, but it also plays into some pretty cliched views of female psychology (a secret desire to be raped?) that render it lifeless and dated. I prefer Bergman when he’s letting artistic sensibilities take over his serious drama, like the colour-satured Cries And Whispers or the hauntingly atmospheric Persona.