Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
United Kingdom/France, 1973. World Film Services. Screenplay by David Mercer, Michael Meyer, based on the play by Henrik Ibsen. Cinematography by Gerry Fisher. Produced by Joseph Losey. Music by Michel Legrand. Production Design by Eileen Diss. Costume Design by John Furniss. Film Editing by Reginald Beck.
Ibsen’s classic play is brought to the big screen by Joseph Losey, hot off the success of his Palme D’Or-winning The Go-Between and featuring a top-flight cast. Jane Fonda is slightly miscast as Nora, the housewife who doesn’t realize how reductive her husband’s treatment of her is until the unearthing of a past scandal that threatens to ruin her life ends up liberating her consciousness instead. Years earlier, she had illegally borrowed money from banker Krogstad (Edward Fox) to pay for a trip to Italy to aid with her husband Torvald’s poor health, but now that Torvald (David Warner) is firing Fox to make way for new employee Kristine (Delphine Seyrig), the spurned man decides to get revenge by revealing the truth. While Fonda handles the material with her usual natural command, she does always radiate a sense of awareness that makes it hard to believe that she ever spent her life in the dark before the conclusion’s events rip the blindfold off her face. No harm done, though, as the setting is convincing (it was filmed entirely in a small village in Norway) and the cast performs the gorgeous dialogue with expert skill. Meant to be released theatrically, the film’s film festival screenings coincided with another version by Patrick Garland starring Claire Bloom, and it was sent directly to television instead.