★★★ / DCP / Bergman’s moody amused tale of a trial of ragtag performers by the town’s elite is bursting with atmosphere and intelligence, yet its ideas run wild at times, leaving the film to slightly meander. The film is enhanced by grand performances, Sydow the mute illusionist, the lovely Thulin in boy drag and the great Bjornstrand as the arrogant doctor.
Not my favourite Bergman. I didn't find the two protagonists very likeable nor the subject particularly interesting, and the plot has some weak spots too; I liked more the side characters and their little subplots, that kinda reminded me of the brilliant Sommarnattens leende. The setting, the mise-en-scène and the lighting are always wonderful, of course, and–is it me or Ingrid Thulin is even hotter made up that way?
A strange composite revenge drama with things to say about the ‘mask’ of performance, establishments built on sand and reason v. superstition, but not a convincing whole with these threads half-baked in a bitty quasi sex-farce and thus never fully realised. It’s a bridge from the 1950s theatrical ensembles towards the mature style from the 60s onwards. As ever though, much to enjoy and learn from this Master.
It's really quite a shame that this movie didn't work. It's so Shakespearean! The first 4/5ths is quite good. The ending seems tacked on later as almost an afterthought. Seems like someone from Hollywood came in and threw together a happy ending. Of course he made another run at similar material with 'The Rite', which is surprisingly daring and good for a TV movie.
A fantasist, convincing and slightly subversive evil-ish, weird comedy. Ingrid Thulin is extraordinary, as usual and Max Von Sydow is colder and more enigmatic than ever. Bring things close to his movie The Devil's eye with the add of scarily mesmerist cinematic influence from Dr Mabuse and stuffs from Browning.