Written by Ingmar Bergman, shot by his long-time cinematographer Sven Nykvist and superbly directed by Liv Ullmann -- Bergman's leading actress and lover during the late 1960s and '70s -- this is very much a Bergman film, despite his absence as director. Set in
Sweden in 1925, it's the story of 36-year-old Anna Bergman (Pernilla August), who's trapped in an unsatisfying marriage to passionless cleric Henrik (Samuel Froler). For the past year, Anna has been carrying on with a young theology student named Tomas (Thomas Hanzon), and -- as she tells her
uncle and spiritual adviser Jacob (Max von Sydow) -- she's never felt more fulfilled. Jacob nevertheless urges her to break off with Tomas and tell her husband everything: Lies compromise a person's essential sanctity, and he assures Anna that whatever pain she suffers will only make her stronger.
He's wrong. The story unfolds through a series of five "private conversations" between Anna, Henrik, Jacob, Tomas and Anna's friend Maria (Kristina Adolphson). Like most of the films Bergman directed himself, it's an intensely personal work: It's interesting that this unhappy tale should be
recounted as an incident in the lives of Anna and Henrik Bergman -- the central characters of THE BEST INTENTIONS, Bergman's somewhat fictionalized account of his parents' marriage, directed by Bille August and also starring August and Froler. The acting here is extraordinary, and Ullmann is a
certainly a competent director, but the return to such themes of isolation and the possibility of faith in a distant and unknowable God really mark the film as a noteworthy addition to Bergman's body of work. And the sight of von Sydow vomiting up a communion wafer is a pretty good indication that
age hasn't mellowed the master one whit.
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- Released: 1997
- Rating: NR
- Review: Written by Ingmar Bergman, shot by his long-time cinematographer Sven Nykvist and superbly directed by Liv Ullmann -- Bergman's leading actress and lover during the late 1960s and '70s -- this is very much a Bergman film, despite his absence as director. S… (more)