A sensitive exploration of the tragic irony of the psychiatrist suffering with mental illness. Dr. Jenny Isaksson is a psychiatrist married to another psychiatrist; both are successful in ...
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A sensitive exploration of the tragic irony of the psychiatrist suffering with mental illness. Dr. Jenny Isaksson is a psychiatrist married to another psychiatrist; both are successful in their jobs but slowly, agonizingly, she succumbs to a breakdown. Jenny is haunted by images and emotions from her past and eventually cannot function, either as a wife, a doctor or as an individual. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
This movie is nothing short of of a masterpiece of dramatic power and psychological insight. If the mark of a great work of art is that it takes a lot out of you while at the same time giving you a lot, then "Face to Face" is a great film by one of the cinema's (and the theatre's) greatest directors.
During the 136-minute film we are confronted with the spectacle of an intelligent woman's soul being laid bare. It is the soul of Jenny Isakson (Liv Ullmann), a Stockholm psychiatrist, as she finds her confidently professional self-assured hold on the world slipping perilously into disarray. Liv Ullmann is of course no stranger to this type of intense Bergman role, from the mute actress of "Persona" to the defeated wife in the 1974 "Scenes form a Marriage" and in films like "Shame," "The Passion of Anna," and "Cries and Whispers." What a marvel!
For virtually the entire length of this harrowing piece, the actress is on screen, and she is such a mistress of her craft, one feels like reaching up to the screen to embrace and perhaps congratulate her. It is that kind of moving performance. The much-praised scene in which she tells Erland Josephson about an attempted rape she experienced has the intensity of an operatic aria as she shifts moods: bemused laughter, pleading sobs, hysterical abandon. It is hard to see the junctures between each emotion. They meld into an overwhelming emotional experience. This and the other collaborative efforts of Bergman and Ullman have very few parallels in the history of cinema. Some of them might be: Roberto Rossellini and Ingrid Bergman, Josef von Sternberg and Marlene Dietrich, G.W. Pabst and Louise Brooks, Federico Fellini and Giulietta Masina.
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