Lars and Susanna have been married for twenty years. They love each other dearly and together they have forged a secure, happy existence with well-paid jobs, a large house, two cars and a daughter who is about to move away from home. Life has turned out just as happily and comfortably for Susanna's best friend Ann and her husband Ulf, who will also shortly be celebrating their twentieth wedding anniversary. One evening when the two couples are having dinner together, Susanna tells the others about an adulterous colleague. The story provokes strong reactions that cause a dramatic showdown among the couples. Susanna and Ulf think adultery is a natural, inevitable risk in any marriage. Lars and Ann completely repudiate the very idea of adultery and are shocked by the open-mindedness displayed by their other halves. After dinner Lars and Ann find themselves alone for a moment. Their rejection of infidelity has suddenly brought them closer. Perhaps they don't know their other halves as ... Written by
Danish director has directed a marriage drama cast with four excellent Swedish actors. From beginning to end it is beautifully filmed, strongly acted and well written. The story involves two middle-aged married couples who live in lush houses, have good jobs and are set in their ways, perhaps too much so for some or all of them. The dinner conversation when the two couples spend an evening together is the elegant starter of the infidelity drama that follows. This is tough and sometimes excruciating drama, though it does have pieces of playful dialogue throughout; there is also a dose of sweetener added at the end, but interpret it as you wish.
The settings are restricted to a few rooms of their two houses and go along with a style of photography and direction that insists on intimacy and requires precision on the part of the performers. The chamber drama style has been compared to certain moments of Bergman's career, usually favourably. There are also some surprising moments where the director draws attention to himself, for instance by allowing the actors to look straight into the camera; I think this helps keep the film engaging for the interested viewer.
A sidenote on the film title. It's possible that this double-metaphor romantic cliché is meant as some sort of irony on the part of the director, but it refers to nothing in the movie and almost kept me from wanting to see the it. It's already hard enough for films like these to survive in theatres without sticking nonsense titles on them.
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