Ingmar Bergman is one of the many directors the list seems to have a love affair with. No less than ten of his films appear, and so partially inspired by Shame as well as the number of his films I have yet to get through, let’s delve into the man’s work with a Bergman-a-thon, shall we? First up is Cries and Whispers, a simple seeming film with a lot going for it, just not in the plot area, as is typical of Bergman films I am slowly realizing.
I’ve mentioned before how Bergman seems to be a fan of character and theme studies, and this is no different; here we follow a young woman dying of cancer and her family as they go about life, blah-de-blah. What makes this film so special, though, is the visual aesthetic. The color scheme reminded me a lot of Black Narcissus; very saturated and robust. Red is a constant presence in the film, indeed, it seems to be dripping with the color, and white is often used as a complimentary. The film’s imagery is very beautiful, as I can now expect from a Bergman film, and it is always a pleasure to watch, if nothing else. I will admit, the film is extremely methodical, though it still manages not to be slow, as contradictory as that may seem. To some, it will appear slow, yes, but it is merely taking its time, indulging in every sensuous experience each shot and each scene has to offer. Often you will hear every gurgle and crack of the characters and the world around them, which serves to enhance the enveloping mood the film is pervasive with.
This is a film with a lot of idiosyncrasies, and a few sections with the cancer-stricken Agnes that may set your nerves afire. Also, I shouldn’t leave this review without mentioning one particular self-mutilation scene, which may put some of you off, as it leaves most of what happens to the imagination. Still, even with the occasional quirk, to put it mildly, this is a fairly good film worthy of the experience to be had. Bergman spoke that the film was an exploration of the soul, and I can see where this idea comes from. A well acted and well put together exploration into the souls of each of its characters, Cries and Whispers is a fine Bergman film, and one that I am glad to have seen. I look forward to future excursions into the world of Bergman, with this and his other prior works as a beacon.
Arbitrary Rating: 8/10