Irish Film Institute -Faithless


Director: Ingmar Bergman

Now well into his eighties, and long retired as a director,
the great Ingmar Bergman (soon to be the subject of a retrospective at the IFC) continues to write scripts that are invariably taken on by other filmmakers. After 1997’s Private Confessions, Liv Ullmann directs her second Bergman script with this brutally honest and emotionally powerful study of the destructive consequences of marital infidelity. Describing Faithless as a morality tale which does not moralise, or a modern day emotional thriller, Bergman based the story on an episode from his own life. Like so many of his works, this new drama continues to explore the author’s long-standing themes and semi-autobiographical obsessions. The film’s main narrative thread is recounted in flashback by an actress to an old man called Bergman and played by Erland Josephson. Marianne Vogler (the name resonates with those of past Bergman characters) is a successful actress, happily married to Markus (Thomas Hanzon), an orchestra conductor much in demand for overseas concerts, and devoted to her young daughter, Isabelle (Michelle Gylemo). The family’s best friend is David (Krister Henriksson), a film director with a reckless attitude towards money, family and relationships. Marianne has an affair with David that destroys her marriage and brings grief to all concerned, with the innocent Isabelle suffering most of all. Bergman’s script is unsparing in its portrayal of David (the young Bergman figure), who is given some very unpleasant character traits. As always, the author has much more sympathy for the chief female protagonist. Bergman wrote the role of Marianne with the actress Leona Endre in mind and insisted that she play the part. Director Ullmann agreed with the choice, and Endre gives a wonderful performance which should have won her the Best Actress prize at Cannes (she was robbed by Bjark’s amateurish turn in Dancer in the Dark). Interestingly, while Bergman originally envisaged the woman as the victim in the affair, Ullmann takes a more even-handed view of the characters’ culpability. The unfaithfulness in the film is not a conscious unfaithfulness, not an act of evil, she insists. This is the most confident and well crafted of her four films to date.

Sweden, 2000.
English subtitles.
Dolby stereo digital.
54 mins.)

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