Faithless

Liv Ullmann's Private Confessions was based on an Ingmar Bergman script about his parents' marital infidelity; this feature is also written by Bergman, though apparently his own past role as the other man haunts him here. An elderly writer named Bergman (Erland Josephson) summons a luminous actress (Lena Endre) to enact the tale of an actress, her orchestra-conductor husband, their best friend, and the triangle's designated victim, the couple's little girl. Ullman switches back and forth between the contemplative spaces of creation—the writer and his muse confer in his study, by a window, near a lake—and the overcharged locations of the main story, creating some space around the narrative and aerating its angst, so to speak. That, finally, is the film's fascination: the tension between Bergman's dour puritanism and the earthy plenitude and innate sensuality of Ullman's austere compositions. Her delight in color, texture, and light and Endre's glowing, eminently nonneurotic sexuality make the doom-ridden, guilt-wallowing pronouncements seem less like insights and more like self-fulfilling prophecies. 142 min.

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