Private Confessions | Chicago Reader

Private Confessions

Private Confessions was scripted by the retired Ingmar Bergman, who seems to delight in having other filmmakers expand on his parents' private lives. Pernilla August and Samuel Froler reprise the roles of Anna and Henrik Bergman they played in Bille August's 1989 The Best Intentions, with Bergman standby Max von Sydow as the father-confessor around whom the film is structured. Liv Ullman, in her third directorial outing, treats her mentor's parents' lives with suitable reverence, which includes fidelity to the script's many ironies. And as if there weren't enough Bergmanites on the set, the film's awash in Sven Nykvist's northern light. Yet Private Confessions doesn't feel like a Bergman film. It's far more grounded and slier, and it's ambivalent in emotional rather than intellectual ways. The movie, cut down from a longer TV version, is set up as a series of five “confessions”' whose achronological sequence calls into question the “truth” being confessed. 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.

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