Henrik Bergman is a struggling theology student in 1909. His betrothed, Anna Aakerbloom is from a well-to-do family. Love prevails, but after a harsh few years as the wife of a clergyman, Anna yearns for the bountiful pleasures of her family home…
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The Palme may have gone to August, but I can't help but think it was a belated way to honor Ingmar Bergman, whose brilliant, personal screenplay makes this a lost Bergman film. The cast is terrific, and even if all August did was stay true to the master, he did a fine job. The chief drawback is that it feels like (and was) a miniseries cut to a feature, with the whole less than the sum of its highly eloquent parts.
Give my regards to that woman, tell her she deserved her life and death. She will never have my forgiveness. Tell her I despise her for the sake of my mother and for my own sake. Just as I loathe you and people like you.
The only thing holding this film back is that it's not directed by the big man himself. Billie August has proven himself a capable journeyman of art house films but lacks any intensity or the piercing eye that Bergman brings to Fanny & Alexander. However, a workmanlike take on Bergmans script still makes for some truly exellent acting and an experience to behold.