When I first saw this movie, it was labeled "INGMAR BERGMAN'S TORMENT," marked all over as "His directorial debut!" To be fair, this movie is an Alf Sjoberg work, and you can tell right from the opening scenes. To see Bergman's "directorial debut," you can catch the last 30 seconds or so, when an absentee Sjoberg handed over the reigns to the ambitious, if callow, Bergman. How much of this work deserves Bergman's name? The screenplay, though that was altered by Sjoberg too, and thats about it.
Its a shame that this work has been so over-publicized. Ostensibly, it couldn't be a more auspicious project: a collaboration of two of Sweden's greatest film-makers (we can lament the fact that Sjoberg's fame has so faded over time, for he really was a talented film-maker). Unfortunately, it can be written off as an opportunity missed. The film was being made for Svenski Film's anniversary and seems to have been somewhat hastily, maybe dispassionately, put together. This isn't Sjoberg's best work by a long shot, even for its few gem moments. The writing is harmlessly mediocre; an angst-ridden story about a tortured student intellectual. Clearly its a film Bergman must regret, for the brilliance of his later writing is little evident. It has a flavor of Bergman, but the most immature of all of his writing.
The plot centers around a young woman who keeps two lovers: one, the chief protagonist, a bright young student full of youthful idealism: the other one of his instructors, whom we only know as Caligula -- a lonely old man who lashes out and torments every human who he comes in contact with. Eventually, and predictably, the two come into conflict.
Torment is not a bad film by any measure, but one can't help but be disappointed by it. It should be of some interest to both Sjoberg and Bergman fans. Mild recommendation.