Enskilda samtal (Private Confessions) (Private Conversations) (1999)
Critic Reviews for Enskilda samtal (Private Confessions) (Private Conversations)
Ullman isn't particularly interested in the angst of human interaction or the difficulty of knowing truth; she seems fascinated by the pathos of feelings that are all the more intense for being of questionable integrity.
Each sequence is introduced by an intertitle suggesting it will contain an isolated conversation, an archly inaccurate notion that deepens the drama by appearing to deny its complexity.
Ullmann handles the rich material with simplicity and feeling, using snatches of classical music only sparingly and concentrating on the faces of her exemplary cast.
The actors clearly respond, August conveying the turmoil of a woman trapped by circumstances and her own febrile emotions, Sydow a figure of towering moral authority and compassion.
Coming from the master's hand, the result is unique, akin to a deep plunge into a northern lake -- there's a chilling clarity to the experience, a harsh beauty that's softened, yet never redeemed, by unexpected pockets of relative warmth.
Audience Reviews for Enskilda samtal (Private Confessions) (Private Conversations)
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 fiercly: 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.
Although this is technically an Ullmann directed film, it has all the feel of Bergman that goes beyond what he provided in the written script. What we discover is how much of the real Bergman story is portayed in his films.
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