Very beautifully filmed, but not easy watching!,
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This review is from: Cries And Whispers  [DVD] (DVD)
This is the most disturbing of the few Bergman movies I've seen so far. The last one we watched previous to this was Smiles Of A Summer Night, an altogether different beast, being the comedy of relationships on which Woody Allen's Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy is based.
Cries And Whispers is hard going, as it forces you to confront a long, slow, agonising death, topped off with a close study in family disfunction, amongst three sisters. So rather than being escapist movie-making, it rubs your face in some of the harsher and less pleasant aspects of real life. Having said this, it's a very beautifully filmed and highly stylised piece. Whilst very well acted it's not exactly naturalistic in the normal sense either.
As well as the sisters there's their housemaid, and some other male and female relatives and associates, including a cameo from Smiles Of A Summer Night's Gunnar Björnstrand as their doctor (and one of the sister's previous love interests). Bergman gets fantastic performances from all concerned, with the strong female leads all being very impressive.
Visually the film is stunning, with an amazing house as the main setting, filled with stark Scandinavian interiors with beautifully choreographed colour schemes, black white and red, especially striking rich blood red, being a dominant and striking colour in the interiors. Red is also used to strong effect in cross fades, along with doleful chimes, evoking the sanguinary theme of mortality.
Thematically it's hard going, meditating as it does on some less than pleasant aspects of life. Whilst it's a very admirable (and understandably lauded) film, i.e. very 'worthy', it's not one I think I'll watch very often! Still, it's a good addition - for me at least - to ones knowledge of Bergman's work, all of which, so far, has really impressed, moved and interested me. So, difficult as it is, I would certainly recommend it to lovers of serious film-making.