Angst and sexual repression in downbeat, risqué film
Jan (Keve Hjelm) fights impotence (literal and symbolic) and anguished childhood memories in a decadent Swedish castle where risqué parties and daring scenes defy 1960s' movie censorship, reaffirming the ground-breaking role of Swedish films in helping advance adult, sexually concerned themes in international cinema (q.v. Bergman's "Through a Glass Darkly", "The Silence" and "Persona", Vilgot Sjöman's "My Sister My Love/ Syskonbädd 1782" and "I am Curious Yellow", etc). "Night Games" includes a bold flashback scene of Jan as a child (sensitive Jörgen Lindström, who played the young boy in Bergman's "The Silence") caught masturbating.
Former Swedish star Mai Zetterling's third directorial effort is particularly interesting for atmosphere, decors and cast, but the film is heavily depressing and the rather obvious symbolisms have dated badly. Sphynx-like, marvelous Ingrid Thulin has a field day as the bitchy and sensuous mother; Keve Hjelm is engagingly honest in a role that requires bravado and emotional range. The film is influenced by Bergman's "angst" films but also has an expressionist touch to it, because of Rune Ericson's camera-work and experiments with different lenses.
If you like films with decadent-bourgeois flavor and angst-filled characters, this is for you. Of course, it's also a must for Ingrid Thulin fans, but it's probably a very difficult film to find these days. My vote: 6 out of 10.
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