Sog.: based on the novel of the same name (1966) by Mai Zetterling. Scen.: Mai Zetterling, David Hughes. F.: Rune Ericson. M.: Paul Davies. Mus.: Jan Johansson G,eorg Riedel. Scgf.: Jan Boleslaw. Int.: Ingrid Thulin (Irene), Keve Hjelm (Jan), Jörgen Lindström (Jan da ragazzo), Lena Brundin (Marian), Naima Wifstrand (Astrid), Monica Zetterlund (Lotten), Lauritz Falk (Bruno), Rune Lindström (Albin), Christian Bratt (Erland), Lissi Alandh (Melissa). Prod.: Göran Lindgren per Sandrew Film & Teater AB. DCP. Bn.
In this compelling work of cinematic rigour, a man returns to his childhood country home, accompanied by his fiancée. In flashbacks, we learn of his troubled relationship with his mother, who is also the object of his sexual fantasies. Living a sybaritic life, the mother hosts one party after another, the guests resembling characters from a nightmare or circus, completed by a jazz band (the ensemble featuring well-known Swedish musicians Jan Johansson and Georg Riedel). The present is woven into these scenes from the past, which rather than offering simple reminiscences, provide explanations for the behavioural traits of the leading character. This second feature by actor-turned-director Mai Zetterling, after the remarkably accomplished, if highly scandalous Älskande par (Loving Couples), is arguably even more controversial. Described by some as “pornographic” (accusers included the former child star Shirley Temple), it is in fact one of the most intelligent and sincere studies of the agonies of puberty; the story of a young boy surrounded and troubled by women. The parallels between the film and Ingmar Bergman’s Persona, made in the same year, go beyond the appearance of child actor Jörgen Lindström in both, and the use of film projection on bodies. In fact, belonging to that quiet “new wave” of Swedish directors of the early 1960s, Zetterling, like most of them, had ties to Bergman: her acting breakthrough came with the Bergman-scripted Torment and later she was directed by him in Music in Darkness. Yet, her own films tend to out-Bergman the old master in their broken subjectivities and elliptical narratives, which allow a higher degree of objective study. There Zetterling stood somewhere between Ida Lupino and Margarethe von Trotta, not because she was also a versatile actress and writer (in her case, also a novelist) but in the sense that she emerged from a scene already ripe with innovations and new possibilities but she pushed those possibilities even further by uncompromisingly changing the camera’s point of view to a feminine one.