Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, December 22, 2016


Liv Ullmann and Ingrid Bergman
AUTUMN SONATA (1978). Written and directed by Ingmar Bergman.

Charlotte (Ingrid Bergman) is a successful, middle-aged concert pianist. After the death of her close friend, Leonardo (Georg Lokkeberg), she is invited to the home of her daughter, Eva (Liv Ullmann), who lives with her husband Viktor (Halvar Bjork), and her sister, Helena (Lena Nyman), who is both mentally and physically disabled. One night, full of wine, Eva tells her mother what living with -- and without -- her was like, excoriating her and even blaming her for her sister's illness, causing a rupture that may never be mended. Autumn Sonata is an interesting, if typically talky, character study/soap opera that never quite comes to grips with its central problems. Charlotte is a career-driven woman, and certainly no mother of the year, but her daughter in her own way seems just as self-absorbed, blaming Charlotte for basically acting like a typical mother when she was fourteen -- she even complains about her getting braces even though they straightened her teeth. Generally people grow out of their parent- hatred, recognizing they are only human, as they themselves reach adulthood, but Eva is apparently too neurotic and perhaps jealous of her mother's comparatively glamorous life to acknowledge this. If anything, more people would object to Charlotte's almost complete neglect of Helena over her alleged monstrousness toward the very whiny Eva. "Not a shred of the real me could be loved or accepted," Eva tells her mother, but isn't this the way most boys and girls feel at fourteen? Autumn Sonata is very well-acted, and there's some good dialogue, but there is a dramatic weakness at its core that even Ingrid Bergman noticed. Bergman was also uncomfortable playing in a movie that somewhat mirrored the sometimes difficult relationship between herself and her daughter, Pia Lindstrom. This is the only time both Bergmans worked together. Bergman has made much better pictures, such as Sawdust and Tinsel and Cries and Whispers.

Verdict: Critics raved, and Ingrid is terrific, but this is not one of Bergman's best. **1/2.


angelman66 said...

True, Bill, this is not one of Bergmann's best, or Bergman's, but it was interesting to watch the great Liv Ullman work with Ingrid. It is a bit slow, but if you are in the right mood, satisfying. I want to see it again someday.
- Chris

William said...

Very good performances are what make it reasonably entertaining.