Review of Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words (2015)

Moving picture, 114 minutes

Seen in 2017.

The life of Ingrid Bergman as told through her diaries and letters, and by her children.

Similar in style and subject matter to Regarding Susan Sontag (2014). The ambition of going straight to primary sources is a good one and provides some insights but the presentation is poor. Alicia Vikander’s husky acting as Ingrid sounds nothing like the original. Shooting modern footage on 16mm, or pretending to, serves no purpose. Michael Nyman’s score fails to encompass the brighter periods, and is mixed too intrusively. Eva Dahlgren is a hack.

Instead of analyzing, for instance, how Bergman’s scandalous divorce and distanced parenting style relate to sexism, the director returns frequently to the tenuous psychoanalytical assertion that Bergman used acting to commune with her dead father, an assertion contradicted even within the documentary by Bergman’s own admission that she couldn’t improvise; being in front of a father figure with a camera was clearly not her driving force. The same observation also contradicts Bergman’s own psychoanalytical hypothesis that she trained herself to be an actor through improvised use of her imagination, to compensate for the loneliness of her childhood. The director seems not to have made any effort at parsimony, preferring the inelegant myth of the suffering artist.

moving picture non-fiction