Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Emotional Illiterates

I love Bergman's stuff, and of course know what I'm getting into when I watch it, but this one in particular left me feeling gut-punched and withered. Marianne and Johan skim along contentedly until suddenly the shiny gold plating wears off their marriage, resulting in some of the most painful, brutally honest dialogue ever. Think Persona was rough going? This ranks right up there! Perhaps it's the "child of divorce" baggage I still carry around, but when Liv Ullman was ambushed by her husband's decision to leave I almost couldn't watch--I swear she acted herself into appearing 15 years older, and as she began unraveling emotionally I went along for the ride.

Having been married for almost 11 years, I was totally freaked out by Scenes from a Marriage; sometimes Cha and I find ourselves playing out evasive routines that don't work anymore, or standing hip-deep in quagmires avoided a dozen times before, and the temptation to blow off problems or ignore them is enormous--marriage can be work, and grave dangers lurk for those who don't take it seriously. I've never seen a film which captured the precariousness of a "happy" relationship so minutely. The best (meaning most devestatingly frank) novel about divorce?