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.
on January 10, 2006
I saw this at a film festival earlier this year and didn't know what to expect. Bergman is my favourite director, but he hasn't turned out a feature film since 1984's 'After the Rehearsal,' so I didn't have my hopes up.
However, it turned out to be one of Bergman's better films, even if it does suffer from not having Sven Nykvist behind the camera. The script is first-rate, the acting (of course) is brilliant, and like all of his better work it leaves a deep impression in your mind for days and weeks afterwards.
While not quite on the level of Persona, Cries and Whispers, Winter Light, or The Seventh Seal, it is comparable (in terms of quality) to 'Scenes From A Marriage,' 'After the Rehearsal,' or 'Secret Lives of Marionettes.'
It moved me deeply.
It is a disturbing, uncomfortable, and uncompromised work from cinema's greatest artist. Unquestionably one of the best films of 2005.