Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.
Sweden/Italy/Germany/Finland/Norway, 2000. Classic, Nordisk Film- & TV-Fond, Norsk Rikskringkasting, RAI Radiotelevisione Italiana, Rai Cinema, SVT Drama, Svensk Filmindustri, Svenska Filminstitutet, Yleisradio, Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen. Screenplay by Ingmar Bergman. Cinematography by Jörgen Persson. Produced by Kaj Larsen, Johan Mardell. Production Design by Göran Wassberg. Costume Design by Inger Pehrsson. Film Editing by Sylvia Ingemarsson. Cannes Film Festival 2000. Toronto International Film Festival 2000.
Liv Ullmann directs Ingmar Bergman’s script based on a relationship he found himself still guilt-ridden over in his later years. Erland Josephson appears as a fictional version of the master filmmaker, sitting in his work room (filmed in Bergman’s real office in his house on Faro) and visited by the specter of the woman in question (Lena Endra), who narrates to him the story of their affair. Happily married to orchestra conductor Markus, Marianne begins a fun love affair with David on a trip to Paris that soon becomes a serious relationship that results in her leaving her husband and child for him. The agony of considering the morality of her decision occupies Marianne for much of the film until the actual break with her husband inspires a bitter custody battle, all of it leading back to Josephson feeling guilt for a crucial moment in this story in which he feels he failed her. Sensitive and richly acted, the film is far too long even for a viewer in the most forgiving mood, featuring all the intelligent detail and languid pacing that Bergman’s writing deserves but lacking his tension. Ullmann, who always comes across in person as self-satisfied and mercurial, loves her characters and sympathizes with them, and whatever forgiveness Bergman seeks Ullmann has already decided to give him from the start, making for what is a satisfying but ultimately placid viewing experience.