|Index||6 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
**CONTAINS POSSIBLE SPOILERS**
Written by Ingmar Bergman and aptly directed by Liv Ullman, `Private
Confessions' continues the chronicle of Bergman's parents which began with
the 1992 film `The Best Intentions.' Now, twelve years into the marriage
Anna and Henrik (Pernilla August and Samuel Froler), the story unfolds
through a series of five `conversations' which are actually pivotal
intervals in Anna's life. The first is with her Uncle Jacob (Max von
Sydow), a clergyman, and we learn of the anguish she has suffered due to
own unfaithfulness to the autocratic and demanding Henrik. Though she
not regret the affair, she realizes the precariousness of her position and
the threat it poses to the well-being of her family, especially the
children. Jacob tells her she must end the affair at once, and advises
to tell her husband everything. She knows how much this would hurt
and must decide whether or not to do as her Uncle insists. In the second
conversation we learn the outcome of her decision.
The third segment takes place two months prior to her confession. Anna
arranges a rendezvous with Tomas (Thomas Hanzon), a young theology
at the home of a friend. When it is finished, Tomas leaves her, appalled
his own inadequacies at allowing their affair to proceed at all. Anna
loves him though, and knows that she will always be with him, at least in
her own heart. The next conversation is ten years later. Jacob is dying
and has asked for Anna to come to him. They have not actually spoken with
one another since he advised her in the matter of her affair with Tomas.
All this time he has wondered, burdened by the possible outcome of his
advice, and doesn't want to go to his grave without knowing. He is
to learn she has not seen Tomas in ten years, and they take communion and
pray together. Then, in the final segment, Anna is eighteen years old, a
confirmation student of Jacobs, and we learn of her doubts concerning her
faith. Jacob, her spiritual advisor, tells her she must decide for
whether or not to take communion, and in the end we are left pondering
Bergman's familiar themes of faith, suffering and the foibles of human
nature he addresses so adroitly; the pain of discovering one's own
loneliness; and the guilt we all seem destined to bear. Liv Ullman has
an outstanding job of rendering Bergman's material to the screen, and
be commended for eliciting exemplary performances from von Sydow, Hanzon
especially August, and for allowing them the time necessary with which to
convey as much with an expression or a gesture as with words alone. These
moments enable the actors to breathe life and meaning into their
while giving credence to the morality to which those characters must
`Private Confessions,' like all of Bergman's work, will make you pause
reflect on your own life and imperfections, while bringing you face to
with the reality of being mortal. I rate this one 8/10.
Great acting all the way down the cast list. It's easy to get involved and
empathize with the heroine, to care about her and what she's going
And that, for me, is what makes a movie great.
Great photography, too.
Apart from a couple of long-winded moments and an ending that feels a little forced, this is a most excellent film and very intriguing in so many ways. Long-term Bergman collaborator Sven Nykvist is responsible for the cinematography and every shot and frame has a hauntingly beautiful atmosphere and realism to it that it is almost hypnotising to watch. The director this time round is not Bergman, but Liv Ullman, one of his best regular actresses and among the best that Sweden ever had. The directing is done very intelligently, from collaborating with Bergman for so long there is definitely an influence but it never resorts to imitation. Like Bergman as well, she does a fine job in keeping the characters and situations as compellingly real as possible, whether you're fascinated by or indifferent to them is a matter of opinion. Bergman does have a hand in it, as a writer. The structure is very autobiographical and personal, and it so incredibly honest, often painfully so, and thought provoking. The story is insightful, dealing with complex issues with such realism, and while you mayn't consider the characters likable anybody familiar with Bergman's style and know enough about what he intends in every one of his movies will argue that they weren't meant to be, and I agree. Pernilla August gives a masterful lead performance, she says little but her gestures and expressions really resonate with you, for me in that regard like a female Max Von Sydow. Sydow also stars and I can't find anything to fault him whatsoever, like August he tells much without having to do so verbally. In conclusion, an excellent film and doesn't disappoint in what it promised. 8/10 Bethany Cox
Full of deep, painful but harrowingly rewarding emotions, and a
knockout performance by Pernilla August (one of those performers that
does so much when seeming to do so little), and reveals Liv Ullmann as
a gifted director - maybe she was the only one to direct this, as
Billie August did The Best Intentions (and I may possibly, just maybe,
prefer this film to Best Intentions, which this is a sequel to), since
for Bergman so much is already so personal (the characters are his
parents, or versions of them anyway).
But every episode is wholly rewarding, and the moments of sensual tenderness between characters are underlined by how the dialog drives things so fiercely: like the best characters written by Mr. Bergman, these people, especially Anna, Henrik and Tomas, want to find the right path but get corrupted, or just screwed up, by where their hearts lead them. It may also be one of the most mature works by this writer, as the story jumps from episode to episode in time (about five 'confessions'/conversations in all, spanning many years), as we see the bulk of the action take place when Anna had her affair, the fall-out with her husband... and then ten years later (as well as when Anna was 18) when she tells to her Uncle Jacob (Max von Sydow, who is great and who could expect otherwise, especially here as a forgiving but firm minister).
This jump isn't simply to be clever, far from it - we learn along with the characters, and time does change a lot of things. By the end, I looked back on the episodes on Private Confessions as meaning so much, for the drama they went through and that I saw, and even with an ending that appears to be 'happy', there is still a well of anguish that can always be tapped. When it comes to Bergman, by way of his great love and collaborator Liv Ullmann, romance is never, ever easy, especially when some sort of 'God' may be watching and judging. Oh, and having Bergman-regular Sven Nykvist shoot is always welcome (this was the last time he would bring light and dark to his words).
Norwegian actress, author, Doctor of Humane Letters, screenwriter and
director Liv Ullmann's television film which was written by a Swedish
20th and 21st century son, brother, husband and father named Ernst
Ingmar Bergman, is an adaptation of an autobiographical book he wrote
in 1994. It premiered on Swedish television in 1996, was shot on
locations in Sweden and is a Sweden-Norway-Denmark-Finland-Iceland
co-production which was produced by producer Ingrid Dahlberg. It tells
the story about a sixteen-year-old daughter and sister named Anna
Bergman who autonomously, within her own independent and inviolable
mind, has concluded that if she conventionally and without any
consideration for her personal thoughts goes through with her
Protestant Christian communion as is commonly expected, it would for
her be like playing theatre.
Distinctly and precisely directed by Norwegian filmmaker Liv Ullmann, this quietly paced and somewhat fictional tale which is narrated interchangeably from the main characters' viewpoints, draws an introspectively self-knowledgeable and conversationally concentrated portrayal of a worshipped thirty-six-year-old mother, wife and nurse whom has befriended a student named Tomas Egerman and whom is considering if she should stay married to her husband named Henrik or get a divorce. While notable for its versatile and atmospheric milieu depictions, distinct cinematography by cinematographer Sven Nykvist, production design by production designer Mette Möller, costume design by costume designer Inger Pehrsson and prominent use of theological terminology, this narrative-driven and dialog-driven story about human relations and inner lives where a five letter word starting with t and ending with h is present in every frame and a five letter word starting with A and ending with e is timelessly ingrained, depicts a self-examining study of character and contains a great and timely instrumental score by Norwegian violinist Arve Tellefsen.
This compassionately reconciling three hour and seven minutes companion piece from the late 1990s which is set in Sweden in the early 20th century and where a filmmaker's relationship with his parents and views of them is further and possibly therapeutically examined through the direction of a close collaborator and theatre and film actress and instructor, and a human being plans to get her spouse declared ill and claims that he his mentally sick to get him hospitalized so that she can stand free of , is impelled and reinforced by its fragmented narrative structure, substantial character development, rhythmic continuity, psychological flashback scenes and the communicatively understated acting performances by Swedish actress Pernilla August and Swedish actor Max von Sydow. An internalized character piece.
Despite an excellent, unaffected performance by Pernilla August, Private Confessions can't escape its melodramatic premise of adultery and redemption. Written by the King of Existentialism, the film (or shall I say mini-series) is structured along five conversations, though they do not follow any chronology, which has become a cool trick to use for many young screenwriters (fragmented chronology) but Bergman uses it as memory. The writing is as intense and honest as any other Bergman film, but without much plot, tends to be long-winded. Longtime Bergman collaborators Liv Ullman and cinematographer Sven Nyvist focus on close-ups and a stationary camera to get their message across, adding to the lack of mobility in the script. After two hours of Swedish mope (not necessarily a bad thing because where else is it more appropriate) [Sorry Martin!], the wistful ending seems forced. Great scene near the end, though, where a hymn gives way to vomiting. In conclusion, a movie for Bergman fanatics (especially since the story is autobiographical) like me and for people having affairs -- not like me.
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