Monday, December 16, 2013

Liv and Ingmar

Cinephiles won't want to miss the tender and touching documentary "Liv and Ingmar," about the five-year working (and romantic) relationship between actress Liv Ullmann and filmmaker Ingmar Bergman (20+ years her senior), and the lifelong friendship that only fully blossomed after they'd gone their separate ways.

Ullmann narrates this personal history, loosely organized into chapters, and the film's greatest pleasure is spending time in her exquisite and eloquent company. (She's as beautiful for her age now as in her Nordic-goddess magazine-cover heyday.) Director Dheeraj Akolkar intersperses Ullmann's reminiscences with readings of Bergman's letters to her and clips from their films that appear in retrospect to be almost autobiographical. A picture emerges of Bergman as both a brilliant artistic motivator and a petty tyrant, demanding Ullmann be home by a certain hour and waiting for her at their gatepost, watch in hand. She attains the wisdom and clarity that allows her to move on, finding a new kind of happiness while still cherishing the unique richness of their time together. "Liv and Ingmar" is soft and hushed - it doesn't aim to be more than it is - but achieves a lovely poignancy.

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