Impiedoso "drama de câmara", canto de cisne do mestre sueco, onde a indiferença afetiva e emocional do ex-marido de Marianne (Liv Ullmann) é filtrada por seu olhar feminino, vivido, fazendo com que passe a se conhecer melhor, como mãe inclusive.
The narrative follows a similar structure, much more condensed to be sure, and each scene is its own little vignette with its own little chapter heading. They are showcases of powerhouse acting, on account of not only Ullmann and Josephson, who in their 80s have yet to give a poor performance that I've ever seen, but also Borje Ahlstedt as Johan's broke and run-down widowed son Henrik, and the beautiful Julia Dufvenius as his trapped and defiant daughter Karin. In one scene between Henrik and his father, who shows us a side of him never before seen in such bare frankness, even in the triply long preceding film, Ahlstedt barely speaks, and yet he does so much more than Josephson with the silence he must use. Indeed, the modus operandi of each scene at large is soliloquy in the guise of two characters, one speaking while looking on and another listening deeply. Such stagy exposition is not at all characteristic of writer-director Ingmar Bergman, the very antithesis of this overtly theatrical form being the then 84-year-old master's original epic Scenes From a Marriage, which unfolded in the most natural possible way it had to, in the dialogue, in the settings, et. al.
But regardless of their contrivance, each scene is a self-contained achievement of various degrees of talent from the cast of no more than five actors in all. Bergman's swan song opens with his inimitable camera on Ullmann, his most consistent collaborator, standing by a table covered with photographs. It is a well-lit room, and she addresses us through the fourth wall. She picks up on picture after another, in no real order, just scattered all over the table. Some make her smile, or elicit a comment or a sigh. But then she picks up a photograph of Josephson. Seemingly, because she is the maternal ear and shoulder for each character who soon appears, she must have her own counsel, us if no one else.
There is a strange perspective to this film. It appears in general to imprint off of the original film, but it is instead an entirely separate one in spite of its dependence on the original. Ullmann will periodically turn to us for an aside, but we soon forget for many long stretches that it is, or could be, her story, as the camera shares secret moments with every character. The film hardly depicts, or believes in, any kind of actual resolution. Saraband begins by permanently changing our view of the original film's story as it was left three decades before, and ends with just as much certainty as the original did three decades before. Perhaps it is a reflection of old age; that seems to be the significance of the deliberate and extensive soliloquys.