Thursday, February 5, 2009


Charlotte: You do like me don't you?
Eva: You're my mother.

Autumn Sonata (60)
was world famous Swedish actress Ingrid Bergman's last film. And I can entirely see why. This film, set almost entirely in a cottage on a lake somewhere in rural Sweden, is as dark, brutally honest, and painful to watch as almost any I've watched before. It's a film about what armor we build to shield ourselves from the pain too harsh to deal with. It is also a film about the emotional wreckage we are forced to explore when that armor comes crashing down.

The story revolves around Eva (Liv Ullmann) and her mother Charlotte (Ingrid Bergman) a famed concert pianist who has been absent for most of her life. After two years of nearly no communication, Charlotte comes to visit Eva and they spend an emotionally raw evening sussing out the relationship they never truly had. There is a layer of honesty, brutal, brutal honesty on display in Autumn Sonata (60) that makes this film nearly unbearable to watch. The close-up camera angles of Eva as she breaks down her mother in to the cracks and flaws she is built from, pulls us in to her emotional state, and to some degree makes us, the viewer feel as if her harsh, but honest, words are aimed at us. There were times during this film, where I had to turn away from the screen, because the emotion present there made me feel uncomfortable.

There is a character in the film, Helena (Lena Nyman) who has some sort of undefined illness. She is the crux of the emotional revelations in the film, and as more and more shells are peeled away, we realize that each and everyone of these characters is sick. Charlotte is an emotional charlatan, a fake who has left her daughter a barren shell of a woman. While Eva is nothing more than the compiled parts of her anger. Both of these women are so damaged that their eventual reckoning cannot do anything but reveal them for what they are: bits and pieces held together by the hatred for each other still lingering in their hearts. When that emotion is finally exposed, the audience is left wondering, without their pain to hold on to, can these women be anything at all?

Whomever at The Criterion Collection programmed the last few films must've been having some sort of week, 'cause holy hell, these are some films that leave scars on my brain. Seemingly, some one gave this sour fellow/lady quite a hug, as the next film up is Monty Python's Life of Brian (61) and that is anything but a downer.

Jesus, I might need a hug after that one.

Friday: Monty Python's Life of Brian (61)

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