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Overall Rating
4.68

Awesome81.82%
Worth A Look: 13.64%
Average: 0%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 4.55%

1 review, 16 user ratings



Face to Face
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by Dr. Isaksson

"A Devastating Masterpiece"
5 stars

Ingmar Bergman's "Face To Face" is one of the most intense studies of the human mind ever recorded onto film. My thoughts have been forever changed after seeing this work of genius.

Liv Ullmann asked her director and former lover Ingmar Bergman what he thought the public's reaction to 1975's Face To Face would be. His response what something like this. "It'll probably be like a knife stab. It'll hurt at first but once it's inside, you'll get used to it."

Face to Face is the story of a female psychiatrist Dr. Jenny Isaksson (played by Liv Ullmann) who suffers from a complete mental and physical nervous breakdown. At the start of the film we are shown her working with a young woman named Maria (played by Kari Sylwan of Cries and Whispers). Maria is a lesbian and a drug addict. She is considered insane but has been around Dr. Jenny long enough to see that deep inside the wall of professionalism Jenny has built, there are deep cracks inside her quiet demeanor. Maria is the one who becomes the analyzer, telling the Dr. that she herself can see that Jenny is devoid of any emotions and seems unable to love. She states it quite clearly that this psychiatrist is just not real. She askes Jenny if she has ever loved anyone. Through the eyes of Maria, all she sees in Jenny is anguish. Which hits Jenny with a bigger impact than she ever could have imagined.

Jenny is certain that as a psychiatrist she cannot possibly feel helplessness, hopelessness, powerlessness or at least, never admit to it. But something has been twisting up deep inside for a long time. Soon after, at a friend's dinner party, she meets a fellow Doctor Dr. Thomas Jacobi (Erland Josephson). He is the half brother of Jenny's patient Maria. They become fast friends. Thomas however, can see the pain inside Jenny.

Later, Dr. Jenny is faced with a dilemma. Maria has left the Hospital and has overdosed on drugs with two strange men in an abandoned house. Jenny goes to her aid but is attacked and almost raped by one of the men. It is here that her white-knuckled grip on sanity begins to loosen. Jenny attempts to shut the rape feelings away. Yet while attending a concert with Dr. Thomas, Jenny knows that the dread within can no longer stay put. She must come Face to Face with the one person she never really knew. Herself.

This is only the beginning of the story. Ingmar Bergman's Face to Face takes you into the grittiest and most powerful look of a human's decent into a nervous breakdown ever captured. As Dr. Jenny Isaksson's breakdown becomes more and more intense, Bergman begins to insert hallucinations and flashbacks of her violent childhood. And Jenny's eventual suicide attempt is done in one long horrifying take which is made all the more stunning with the aid of Sven Nykvist's amazing cinematography. There are several horrifying nightmare sequences, one of which includes Jenny standing outside of herself, looking at her own dead body as it lies in a burning coffin. Images like these make Face to Face unforgettable.

Amazingly, throughout the entire film, Bergman's camera never wavers from Ullmann's face and her acting throughout is a nothing short of a revelation. You feel her fear and you can breathe in her anguish. Liv Ullmann's performance is one of the best ever recorded in cinema history and must be seen to be believed. I will not say that Face to Face changed my life, but I will say that it changed the way I look at my life.

Both Liv Ullmann and Ingmar Bergman received well deserved Oscar nominations for Best Actress and Best Director. In my opinion they definately should have both won. To me, it's the films that don't gloss over the effects surrounding human suffering that deserve the greatest praise. This film is one of them.

OK.. This film has not been released on VHS since the early 80's and I think Paramount has it locked away in some vault collecting dust. I have searched all over the planet for this film and found it in Japan! But we need to do something drastic to get this released! Maybe we should head to the island of Faro were Bergman lives and have a nervous breakdown to prove how much we want this film! I am willing to get all crazed and run through a hallway in slow motion if that would make him happy! Anybody willing to join me?

Just please somebody release this epic film out into the world!

"Face to Face" is a beautifully multifaceted, and ultimately hopeful film that suggests that an individual's hope and love, not psychiatry, have the power to mend a broken spirit. ***** 5 Stars

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=5738&reviewer=296
originally posted: 01/27/02 14:42:04
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User Comments

4/11/16 Gabriel A very intense examination of a woman. Comparable to An Unmarried Woman and 3 Women. Ullm 5 stars
1/31/13 brian Available for viewing on You Tube. Uneven but worthwhile. 4 stars
9/19/10 Dan W A Study in Tedium 1 stars
5/16/10 Sam Maixner Best film Ive seen. Ullman radiates the screen. 5 stars
12/15/09 Peter Page I saw this film when it originally came out and have been trying to find a copy for years. 5 stars
11/14/06 alex saw it last night on public tv (tv novi sad) in serbia. really AMAZING is an understatement 5 stars
7/31/05 PAT MY FAVORITE BERGMAN FILM - WHERE CAN I FIND A COPY? 5 stars
6/09/05 Agent Sands One hell of a ride. Like a trip through a mental patient's mind. 4 stars
8/04/04 Will Macauley One of the best films ever made. Liv Ullmann is unbelievable. Bravo. 5 stars
6/16/04 Bill Parslow Saw it1976, had a huge effect on me - had to run out the cinema for 2 mins in the middle! 5 stars
5/30/04 rod EXCELLENT! The Best EVER 5 stars
5/25/04 Ayca Abakan I saw this film in my late teens and since then can not forget it.So captivating! 5 stars
5/05/03 Terry Ahearn Liv Ullman's performance is the best in any film, anywhere, anytime! 5 stars
12/17/02 Stephen Hokonson What do we need to do to get this wonderful film accessible on VHS or DVD?!!! 5 stars
6/19/02 Donald Cockram It is one of the genius Bergman's more accessible films. 4 stars
5/21/02 Alexader Wonderful 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  02-Mar-1976 (R)
  DVD: 30-Aug-2011

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