Stockholm, 1915. Three women, Agda, Adele and Angela are about to give birth in a clinic. All three recall their past, especially the circumstances that led them to this hospital room. Agda, a housemaid made pregnant by a young middle-class man, has just married a homosexual artist. Adele, married to a farmer, suffers from frigidity, and is expecting a baby which is practically the product of a rape by her husband. As for Angela, a young woman from aristocratic background, she is waiting to give life to an illegitimate child after throwing herself into the arms of fifty-year-old Casanova. In these conditions will the three children to be born be happy? Written by
in many ways well-crafted, but also dry and uninteresting
Technically speaking, this is a good film--with decent cinematography and production values. But, while it is a competent film, I also found myself wanting to turn off the DVD repeatedly because I just didn't find myself at all interested. There are a variety of reasons, though the biggest of which is because it seemed as if I'd seen all this before in various Ingmar Bergman movies--in particular, THE BRINK OF LIFE ("Nära livet"--1958). Also , the angst and sense of isolation and fruitlessness of life was pervasive and just made me feel depressed. After watching this film, I could easily say that the overall message of the film is "life stinks and love is a sham,...then you die".
Now this does NOT mean that I think all movies must be upbeat or positive in tone--far from it. But even a grim movie can be great and compelling when you feel SOME connection to the characters. For example, I just recently saw De Sica's THE CHILDREN ARE WATCHING. It is a major tear-jerker and is the extremely sad story about the break up of a marriage and its impact on a child. BUT, I really cared about De Sica's characters and cared absolutely nothing for Zetterling's. Of the three women featured in the film, one was a lady of privilege with little depth or personality, one a bubble-headed servant and the other a bitter and nasty soul. I just wanted them all to go away and leave me alone!
Now as for this being a controversial film--which it definitely was when it debuted in the 1960s. The nudity but especially the themes of homosexuality and lesbianism were pretty controversial for its day, though by today's standards it's all pretty tame. I still wouldn't let my kids watch the film, but not just because of the nudity and themes but because I love my kids too much to make them watch such an unappealing film.
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