Marianne is a theatre actress married to an orchestra conductor, Markus. She becomes involved in an affair with their director friend, David, which leads to a painful divorce and battle for custody of their daughter, Isabelle. Although all of them are merely fictional characters created by Bergman, their experiences become very real and traumatic for him.Written by
Not to be an elitist, but no one I know is more familiar with the work and life of Ingmar Bergman than yours truly, so when his latest and long-awaited film, Faithless, was recently released, I was immediately eager to see it. And staying true to his promise never to direct another film after Fanny and Alexander, he couldn't have picked a better director for his script than his protege and long-time colleague Liv Ullman. So, what we end up with in Faithless, is a true-to-form Bergmanesque tale that runs a bit too long and has one too many tragedies.
For the most part, the film is pretty much saved by excellent performances, especially the portrayal of Marianne by Lena Endre. The plot is a tangled web of infidelity and its consequences, punctuated with as much heartbreak, pain and suffering as any Bergman opus, and certainly as much as the average viewer can imagine or tolerate. To be sure, Bergman isn't for everyone. But if you enjoy an occasional catharsis, immobilizing intensity and walking out of the theater thinking your life isn't as bad as you thought it was, this film's for you. For those of you familiar with and amenable to Bergman trademarks, you won't be disappointed. There are plenty of long facial close-ups, monologues, ghosts as figurative demons, and a character that represents Bergman himself. This last feature is one of the machinations I feel we could have done without. It adds a character who is not really part of the plot and does little more than listen. There's also a heaviness to the plot that kind of hits you over the head. Major drama is all right with me, and Bergman is one of the best in that genre, but it was dangerously close to the saturation point of redundance and pretension. Nevertheless, for all you Bergman fans, foreign film lovers and wanna-be celluloid asthetes, you really should add this title to your repetoire. Bergman is truly one of the greatest filmmakers of all time, and considering his very advanced age, this could be his last outing. Then again...
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