Scenes from a Marriage

Film - Feature | December 2 | 12:30-5 p.m. |  Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive

 Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive

Johan (Erland Josephson) and Marianne (Liv Ullmann) are the perfect twosome: two houses, two cars, two daughters, two careers. They have the perfect marriage, until one day, they do not. Are we all living in utter confusion? they wonder together; have we missed something important? Bergman’s masterful approach to the dissolution is more an exercise in veneer-stripping than outright dissection. Character revelation is very much in the moment, so we discover the many sides of the prismatic Marianne a little before she does, and suffer the belch that is Johan’s burst for freedom. Perfection in cinema may be as suspect as it is in marriage, and Bergman here allows at least the affect of artlessness. Due in part to the film’s being shot close-in for the television miniseries, there is nothing to situate love’s labors in a larger context. It makes the film riveting and uncompromising, but also liberating: if there are no big answers, we can’t “miss something important.”

 CA,, 5106420808