Berit, a suicidal young woman living in a working-class port town, unexpectedly falls for Gösta, a sailor on leave. Haunted by a troubled past and held in a tight grip by her domineering mother, Berit begins to hope that her relationship with Gösta might save her from self-destruction.
Heavily influenced by Italian neorealism, and featuring strong noir undertones, this morally defiant drama was Swedish master Ingmar Bergman’s fifth film, and his first box office success. Port of Call was considerably ahead of its time in terms of its frank depiction of contentious subject matter.
Films about errant youth have traditionally been cautionary tales w/ an explicitly conservative pedigree. PORT OF CALL, an Ingmar Bergman from the forties, a period of constant reinvention, upsets the tradition by forcefully situating the characters in their blighted socioeconomic contexts. It is the social apparatus that is scorned, Bergman habitually demonstrating the upmost reverence for he or she who suffers.
I'm inclined to like any film which opens with a suicide attempt, but it really is all here: familial abuse, histories of trauma and shame, the cruelty of men, what it means to know and love someone with (and for) all their baggage. This one hits close to home.
It's certainly dated - but Bergman uses melodrama brilliantly to lead us through a tale lamenting the mistreatment of women and the mentally ill (and especially mentally ill women!) So far this is the most compelling film from the beginning of Bergman's career that I've seen, and the photography is stunning.
Nine-Christine Jonsson was excellent as Berit, a conflicted and horribly distraught young girl constantly at odds with her circumstances. I really got tied up in this film and the emotional journey of Berit. Her loneliness is so palpable. Recommended. Think I might have to buy the Early Bergman box set from Criterion now.
Another early Bergman masterpiece, which not only augurs with incredible intellectual maturity Bergman's later embrace of pure psychodrama, it also impresses with the fluid pace and the first-class acting from both Jönsson and Eklund, filmed in feverish and cinematically pure close ups. The problematic of dysfunctional family and its aborted love and life are portrayed with angst, curbed though by dim rays of light.
Very good early Bergman finds him telling a tale of perceived vice; the struggle for personal freedom; and overcoming one's past. There is certainly a level of melodrama here but surprisingly in the end also a certain optimism and hope. Film is led by a dynamite turn by lead Nine-Christine Jonsson and a solid turn by Bengt Eklund. Supporting players are well cast and optimized to full effect by the director.
Effective little drama. The two protagonists and the mother are all credible characters and there is a genuine feeling of a domineering suffocation of natural free spirit. (The only slightly off-putting thing was that Bengt Eklund kept reminding me of Danny Kaye!)