Saraband

Ingmar Bergman suspends retirement—as is his prerogative and our great fortune—with a film as rigorously tempered as it is beautiful to behold. Saraband reunites Johan (Erland Josephson) and Marianne (Liv Ullmann), the couple from Scenes from a Marriage, 30 years after their divorce. This aspect will appeal to anyone who enjoyed the temporal poignancy hovering between Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, but where Richard Linklater is a perceptive and capable artist, Bergman is, well, Bergman. Saraband is not the very best of his work, but it is superior to almost everything else you’ll find on a movie screen right now. The essential conflict concerns Johan’s son Henrik (Börje Ahlstedt), a widower, and Henrik’s teenage daughter and musical protégé, Karin (Julia Dufvenius), who suffers the indignity of being made into a surrogate for her own mother. The theme, not unfamiliar to Marianne and Johan, is about how love can ravage and annihilate. Temperamentally, the movie is impressively Nordic, but neither salacious nor self-deluded. Its production materials are utterly basic: the human face; a good digital camera; and a fond, clear eye to bring them together. No one else could have made it, and you should see it.