Faithless

Faithless

Lengthy, endlessly depressing saga of infidelity written by film god Ingmar Bergman. On a remote Swedish island, a lonely old writer named "Bergman" (Erland Josephson channeling you-know-who) is visited by Marianne (Lena Endre), a 40-year-old woman who is a mixture of artist's muse, wandering ghost, and psychiatrist's patient. She proceeds to tell the old man the tragic tale of the extramarital affair she had which destroyed her family.

Excellently performed by all involved, and ably directed - mostly in close-up - by Ullmann (who had starred in many of Bergman's best-known films of the '60s and '70s), but, inevitably, it is Ingmar Bergman who permeates the entire film with his own legacy.

Faithless is a Bergman film, for better or for worse, and I wondered for the first hour whether the man's work is as relevant to today's audiences as it was 30-40 years ago. (The key players in this love triangle are an actress, a director, and an orchestra conductor, which smacks of European art house pretentiousness from times past.) But eventually the twists and revelations lead into a denouement of profound bitterness that transcends all cinematic trends. It's not happy stuff, but it's effective.

A note to those for whom reading subtitles can be an exhausting experience: this is one talky movie! Your eyes will be looking at the bottom of the screen more than they will at the faces of the actors (unless you know Swedish). But if you're in the mood for high-quality anguish that will leave you drained but satisfied, Faithless is for you.