Two estranged sisters, Ester and Anna, and Anna's 10-year-old son travel to the Central European country on the verge of war. Ester becomes seriously ill and the three of them move into a hotel in a small town called Timoka.
In the midst of a civil war, former violinists Jan and Eva Rosenberg, who have a tempestuous marriage, run a farm on a rural island. In spite of their best efforts to escape their homeland, the war impinges on every aspect of their lives.
After having neglected her children for many years, world famous pianist Charlotte visits her daughter Eva in her home. To her surprise she finds her other daughter, Helena, there as well. Helena is mentally disabled, and Eva has taken Helena out of the institution where their mother had placed her. The tension between Charlotte and Eva only builds up slowly, until a nightly conversation releases all the things they have wanted to tell each other.Written by
In the dialogue scene where Charlotte is lying on the floor and Eva is sitting on the sofa behind her, the shadow of the boom mic is visible on the curtains when the camera pans to Eva for a few seconds. See more »
I'm seized by fear and see a horrible picture of myself. I have never grown up. My face and my body have aged. I acquire memories and experiences but inside all that I haven't even been born. I can't remember any faces not even my own.
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ingrid berman was diagnosed with terminal cancer shortly before she agreed to star in this film. due to the fact that insurance companies in hollywood rarely secure contracts with ill actors, ingrid had to take what she could while she was still alive. i don't know what her financial situation was at the time, but i do know that her fee for starring in this film was much less than she was used to. yet, despite her condition, this became, to me at least, her swan-song performance.
during ingrid's prime, she had considerable control of her image in hollywood. she was portrayed, more often than not, as a strong and goddess-like character (casablanca, anyone?). in this film, however, all control of imaging was in the hands of her swedish counterparts ingmar bergman and sven nykvist, and the image they created of her was deconstructive of her screen persona, yet not in her brilliance and ability as an actress.
ingrid hated working with them, though. ingmar would command long takes, and sven would put the camera inches from her face. yet this technique showed a side of ingrid the world has never seen before.
ingrid's character,charlotte, is a successful concert pianist yet unsuccessful mother who returns to see her two daughters and a son-in-law. one daughter is married, yet is incapable of feeling love. and the other (helena, played by 60's swedish film star lena nyman) is left virtually paralyzed. she returns to visit after 7 years, and that's when the sparks fly.
liv ullman, who plays eva, (the married daughter), has usually been portayed as a non-confrontational person in her collaborations with ingmar, yet her persona in this film is slightly reserved in the beginning, but all her inhibitions are unleashed upon charlotte. i've always remembered ingrid as a beautiful painted rose on the screen (for whom the bell tolls, anyone?), but when this film ends, all we see is ingrid's tear-stained face. this may be ingmar's own reaction to his own short-comings as a husband and father (7 kids/4 marriages). in an effort to deconstruct himself, he looked at another icon to drive home his point of childhood pain and adult insecurities.
at this films end, the most punishing scenes occur. i'm not going to spoil it for you, but it's the scene when eva walks amongst cemetery headstones while charlotte takes the train out of town. i hate to admit it, but there was a lump in my throat at this point in the film.
although i praise this film, i wouldn't give this movie a 10 because of nyman's character. although her scene in the beginning is powerful, her other two appearances,(although brief) are way over-the-top, almost as bad as jar-jar binks in phantom menace.
i could write more, but i want everyone who reads this to go see this movie without my crappy opinions ruining it. it's not often that people see a film with such realistic portrrait of the human condition. and as i said earlier, ingrid and ignmar have rarely (maybe never)been better.
9 out of 10 (***1/2 out of ****)
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