Autumn Sonata (Ingmar Bergman – 1978) A

Another one of Bergman’s “Chamber Films”, movies with 4 or 5 characters in one location. Just like Persona, I could not wait to see it again as the next day. This one revolves around a mom (the great Ingrid Bergman in her last role) who neglected her daughters and husband for years to pursue a career as a concert pianist. The film picks up when she comes to visit her older daughter, Eva (Liv Ullman), after 7 years since last seeing her! In that time the daughter lost her 3 year old son who drowned and her hatred to her mom for years of neglect has been festering. It all comes to a climax in a long late night conversation between the two women. Like all such conversations, where lots of wine is involved, they say things that cannot be taken back and we learn so much about both of them. There is also the daughter’s husband, a pastor, who opens and closes the film by directly addressing the screen while throughout he is more of an observer of the two women’s duel. The fourth character is Eva’s sister who lives with her. She is ill and suffers from spasms. Her mother’s response to her oscillates between indifference and downright disgust. We also have Bergman’s signature close-ups of the actors’ faces, a death scene, monologues and dreams. One masterful and memorable scene among many is the one where both women play the same tune on the piano one after the other. Just watch it and see how the daughter stares at her oblivious mother.

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