Some have suggested that the title Best Intentions automatically implies that there will be disappointment. I couldn't disagree more. Perhaps it is because I grew up hearing this phrase 'good intentions' all of my life, indicative of some failures but not wholly lost or irredeemable. For this film, I entered with no prejudice, not knowing anything about it or its writer/director.
It is the story of two lovers in northern Sweden in the early 1900s. Henrik Bergman, a poor theology student who was befriended by Ernst Akerblom, was invited to dinner with the large family of Akerbloms. He is late and almost, but for the insistence of Anna, turns around to leave in embarrassment. She encouraged him to come in and he reluctantly obeys. Anna introduces him to the family one by one and he is seated to table for dinner. His discomfort is apparent as he, at first, began to tuck his napkin into his shirt collar, but notices everyone else keeping theirs in their laps. The family engages him in polite conversation, being quite welcoming in all. This is the first meeting of Anna Akerblom and Henrik Bergman, who would find love together.
Best intentions proliferate in the saga: Henrik is conflicted about his obligation to Frida. Anna's mother, Karin, dislikes Henrick and tries to prevent her daughter from pursuing this love. bAnna becomes ill with tuberculosis and goes to a sanitorium, but she never forgets Henrik. When she recovers Anna's mother takes her on a trip to Italy, thinking that she will forget Henrik. She even intercepts, reads and disposes of a letter Anna writes to Henrik, against her husband's advice. After weeks of being away, Anna longs for home, and for Henrik. A telegram arrives and announces to Karin, that her husband, Johan, Anna's father has died. In her grief Karin reveals to her daughter that she had taken the letter to Henrik and burned it and begs her forgiveness. Yet we know that she had good intentions for her daughter, even though she had hurt her deeply.
During the separation of Henrik and Anna, he becomes depressed misses Anna. Frida, proves a rare wise woman, knowing that Henrik loves Anna and will never be happy without her, meets secretly with Anna to implore her to rescue Ernst by taking him back.
Finally, the lovers, together again, visit the small parish that Henrik is being called to serve as minister. Anna is not deterred when she sees the state of quarters this church offers as the parsonage, in disrepair and inadequate. Together, she and Henrik visit the abandoned looking chapel where Henrik will preach, when it suddenly occurs to him that they could be married here, instead of the big wedding Anna had already planned. Anna objects, almost insulted that her fiancee would suggest such a thing and their worst argument ever ensues. They both say terrible things they quickly regret. Henrik realizes his error, and agrees once more to the wedding Anna had planned.
The remainder of the film continues to support the title. I highly recommend this film!