Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Liv & Ingmar (March 14th and 16th at the Cleveland Cinematheque)

[LIV & INGMAR screens Friday March 14th at 9:20 pm and Sunday March 16th at 4:30 pm at the Cleveland Cinematheque.]

Review by Bob Ignizio

The scenario in which a director falls in love with his leading lady happens so often as to be almost a cliché. Nonetheless, that is what happened to actress Liv Ullman and director Ingmar Bergman. Bergman was 46 when they met, Ullman 25, and both were married at the time. Nonetheless, they dove headlong into a passionate relationship that had more than its share of ups and downs, most of the downs evidently due to Bergman's possessiveness and jealousy. After five years things got to the point where Liv had to leave. But as the fires of romance burned out, a different kind of love took its place, and the two remained close friends until Bergman's death in 2007 at the age of 89.

There was easily as much drama in the subjects' real lives together as in any of the films they made, so even if you're not a fan of Bergman and/or Ullman, LIV & INGMAR is never dull. Director Dheeraj Akolkar tells the story of the couple's relationship mainly through interviews with Ms. Ullman. Bergman's presence is felt through clips from his often autobiographical films that seem to compliment Ullman's recollections perfectly, and through his letters, read by Samuel Fröler. And despite the seeming limitations of the film's format, Akolkar shows considerable style as well, finding transcendent imagery in both the island home Bergman and Ullman shared, its surrounding scenery, and in Ms. Ullman's face itself. 3 ½ out of 4 stars.

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