We return to the couple from 'Scenes From a Marriage' 30 years later. They haven't seen each other in all that time. Marianne, still working as a lawyer, goes to visit Johan, now living off a rich inheritance in a house in the woods. The film examines the tremendous and sad complexity of Johan's life, and the further unsettling influence of Marianne's return to the scene.
While there is a surface pleasure in seeing the two together again, we realize how poisonous Johan has become, allowing his 61 year old son from an earlier marriage, and his granddaughter to live in a separate house on the estate, although he hates his son. The granddaughter is in turn trapped by a desperate, near incestuous relationship with her father. In a series of simple, honest, and very powerful scenes, we watch these characters bounce off of each other in various combinations.
And while all of them are plagued by deep, perhaps unforgivable flaws, I always understood that Bergman felt for them, and wished the fragments of humanity buried inside could free them. I didn't feel the film was as dark as many people for this reason. Like a directing priest, Bergman hates the sin, but not the sinner, so these people, so easy to hate, or at least dismiss on paper, keep us interested and emotionally involved, praying they will find their way out of the darkness. A strong and powerful swan song from a great film-maker, making his last film at 85.