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Persona

Year: 1966
Production Co: Svensk Filmindustri
Director: Ingmar Bergman
Producer: Ingmar Bergman
Writer: Ingmar Bergman
Cast: Liv Ullman

I wasn't sipping a macchiato or wearing a black turtleneck and beret while watching this, so it's possible I wasn't Bergman's intended audience. As I strongly suspect I would, I found most of the story and the accompanying framing devices (such as the little kid putting on glasses) incomprehensible and most of the deep subtext, searing commentary and visionary directorial art lost on me – if it was really there at all.

It's the story of a Swedish nurse assigned to accompany an actress to a summer cottage in the country to help the latter convalesce after losing her ability to talk.

All the reviews and comment you read about the film say that the young nurse starts to lose her personality and take on that of her patient. All I could ask myself was why – when seemingly unharmed and not even the least psychologically disturbed otherwise – did the actress (Ullman) stop speaking? Was it psychosomatic? Was she just pretending? She listens as Alma, the nurse, talks almost constantly, even smiling sympathetically at her stories and seeming to enjoy her company. The only thing apparently wrong with her is just that she doesn't talk.

Alms, with no response from her patient, talks about ever-more personal details, eventually confessing an infidelity that bought her to life for an afternoon (maybe it's saying something about how we're only truly free around people when we don't fear judgment?)

Roger Evert wrote that the best way to approach Persona is literally – that there's no deeper mystery about what it means. If that's the case, it made (as a lot of these new wave era films do) very little impression on me and afraid I might be stupid after not falling in love with it like all the smart people have.

There might even have been some inventive camerawork, but none I can remember just a few weeks after watching it.

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