By Gary Goldstein
1:40 PM PST, December 12, 2013
"Liv & Ingmar: Painfully Connected" is a lovely and lyrical documentary about the passionate, mutually inspiring yet fraught relationship between the late filmmaker Ingmar Bergman and his lover, frequent collaborator and, ultimately, dear friend, actress Liv Ullmann.
Although enjoyable, the movie is perhaps best suited to cinéastes already intimate with Bergman's venerated body of work as well as with Ullmann's many acclaimed screen roles; writer-director Dheeraj Akolkar offers few specifics on the master's films excerpted here, never providing identifying titles or release dates or contextualizing their esteemed places in world cinema. While not a deal breaker, it's a dubious creative choice.
As for Ullmann, now 74, she radiates a lived-in beauty and infectious warmth as she candidly discusses, largely from the home she and Bergman once shared on Sweden's picturesque Fårö Island, the various phases of their relationship, which began in 1965 while shooting "Persona," the first of their 12 films together. (They left their respective spouses for one another, had an affair and a daughter, but ended their May-December romance after five erratic years fueled by Bergman's controlling ways).
The chapter headings here — "Love," "Loneliness," "Rage," "Pain," "Longing" and "Friendship" — aptly reflect Ullmann's recollections, which are skillfully intercut with analogous clips from Bergman's "The Passion of Anna," "Cries and Whispers," "Scenes From a Marriage" and others, along with behind-the-scenes footage from their various film sets.
Voice-over readings by Ullmann from her 1977 autobiography "Changing" plus passages from Bergman's love letters (voiced by actor Samuel Fröler) are effectively interspersed as well. Mostly, however, it's just great to see the exquisite Ullmann on camera again.
"Liv & Ingmar: Painfully Connected."
MPAA rating: None
Running time: 1 hour, 23 minutes.
Playing: At Landmark's Nuart Theatre, West Los Angeles.
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