Persona (1966)

Persona Movie Review………………………………………………………………………………

Persona Movie Review

Persona is a 1966 Swedish drama film directed by Ingmar Bergman and starring Bibi Andersson and Liv Ullmann. It is an admirable, yet troublesome experiment.

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The important thing is the effort, not what we achieve

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This is the kind of a film that I admire a lot, but still did not end up loving it. It is just solid and never as great as it could have been because of some unfortunate decisions in its second half. I am talking about the whole psychological thriller approach in its third act. That was really not necessary and it definitely ruined the movie for me. It should have been a drama from beginning to end.

There are also a lot of things that I really loved here and those are mostly the technical aspects with some of Bergman’s most intriguing and authentic filmmaking methods present. The film shows only the faces of the two women, well, for the most part at least. That I really liked as the two are the most important characters here and this is their movie. I also admire the movie for basically having one character speak for the entire running time and the others rarely utter a sentence. That was very difficult to achieve, but he managed to pull it off.

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Persona Movie Review………………………………………………………………………………

I really liked Alma as she is such a well developed character with her problems being well explored. But Elisabet is troublesome as we never really get to know her and not just because she doesn’t speak, but also because the filmmakers never delved into her character properly which was a shame. Liv Ullman is really good here, but it is Bibi Andersson who gave a better and more memorable performance.

I really liked Persona’s thematically rich approach with some very fascinating themes. The juxtaposition of one’s personality and the life the person leads is such an interesting theme really well explored here. It is also new and just fascinating and easily the most interesting theme in the film. I also really liked the movie’s exploration of women and the roles they have in life with motherhood being a prominent theme here. That was all very interesting and Persona is so original and admirable for featuring basically just female characters with the protagonist talking about deeper thoughts as well as sex. That was very progressive.

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Persona Movie Review………………………………………………………………………………

That monologue about sex is such a wild scene that came out of nowhere and it is crazy to think about this scene as the film came out in the sixties and deals with sex in such graphic ways. It truly does feel progressive and ahead of its time, but maybe it was a bit too modern for its own sake. The homoerotic tone of Persona is one of the problematic aspects as it is never necessary nor did they do anything truly of importance with it. It was just sort of there. And the whole thriller, crazy approach near the end was really disappointing despite one good moment which is the screen shattering effect which was so cool and unique.

Ingmar Bergman directed this movie with a lot of style and authenticity. And although I really respect him and his vision and different styles here, I still found the end product to be just artistic and never having any appeal to it besides that. And it is definitely not his best work which some critics proclaimed it to be. It is thought-provoking and clever, but it is also very difficult to understand at times and it features some forced, annoying and clich├ęd avant-garde scenes that are just artistic for the sake of being artistic.

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Persona Movie Review………………………………………………………………………………

Persona has a fantastic cinematography and some terrific and memorable shots. It also has a great imagery and it is undoubtedly a visually powerful feature with such an authentic, yet beautiful look to it. The dialogue is good, but I expected more from it. And the film does with its brief running time the most it can do which is great if not for the fact that it ended on such a disappointing note. Overall, Persona is most certainly not the director’s finest work and it is annoying at times, but it is still admirable and very authentic.

Persona is an admirable, yet troublesome experiment. The dialogue is good, the directing is excellent and the film is thematically rich with some very fascinating themes. It is also a technically amazing work filled with some great shots, many intriguing and authentic filmmaking decisions and a great imagery. But it is also too difficult to follow at times, it is sometimes artistic just for the sake of being artistic and some choices in its third act are very annoying. It is a solid film that I most certainly admire, but I found it pretty disappointing nevertheless.

My Rating – 3.5

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Posted in 1960s, 1966, Drama, FILM DECADES, Foreign, MOVIE REVIEWS, Swedish and tagged , , , , , , , .

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