* * * 1/2
R for langauge
Ingmar Bergman’s first film in nearly 25 years, and what he has said will be his final film, is as well made a film I have ever seen, as far as how well crafted it is. The problem is that unlike Bergman’s past masterworks, this film seems somehow misguided in both its subtext, and its execution. The films actors do a tremendous job, and the cinematography is brilliant. The film follows the two leads from his 1974 film Scenes from a Marraige. Marianne visits her ex-husband, Johan. But that isn’t what this film is about. Johan’s son has tried to make his daughter like his deceased wife, and has a terrible relationship with Johan. The film has similarities to Strindberg, Bergman’s theatrical predecessor. Johan comments, much like a Strinberg character, that he feels like he’s already in hell. However, while Strinberg’s final plays were hopeful, Bergman seems quite bleak in his final film. There is only failure, and loss, and a small glimpse of hope in unconditional love. It is this final aspect, found in a scene between Marianne and her catatonic daughter, is what makes this nearly a 4-star film. And had anyone but Bergman made it I wouldn’t be nearly as hard on it. But it still is a wonderfully crafted meditation on death, loss, and love.