|Face to Face|
|Written by||Ingmar Bergman|
|Directed by||Ingmar Bergman|
|Country of origin||Sweden|
|Running time||114–177 minutes (multiple versions)|
Face to Face (Swedish: Ansikte mot ansikte) is a 1976 Swedish psychological drama film written and directed by Ingmar Bergman. It tells the story of a psychiatrist who is suffering from a mental illness. It stars Liv Ullmann and Erland Josephson.
It is also the film debut of Lena Olin.
The film was conceived and produced as a four-part mini-series on Swedish television with a running time of 177 minutes. The episodes were entitled:
- Uppbrottet (The Separation)
- Gränsen (The Border)
- Skymningslandet (The Twilight Land)
- Återkomsten (The Return)
It was edited down for theatrical releases for running times from 114 to 135 minutes. However, the theatrical version premiered first. The film was later screened at the 1976 Cannes Film Festival held in May, but was not entered into the main competition. The television version aired in Sweden over four weeks in May and June of that year, and has not been released for home media.
Dr. Jenny Isaksson (Liv Ullmann) is a psychiatrist who has taken a temporary job as the medical supervisor at a mental hospital while her husband is in America and their daughter is away at camp. She is staying with her grandparents (Gunnar Björnstrand, Aino Taube) who looked after her when her parents died, sleeping in her teenage bedroom which brings feelings of childhood trauma. Jenny appears to be suffering from anxiety and sees visions of a one-eyed old woman.
At a party hosted by the ex-wife a colleague at the mental hospital where they work, Jenny meets the divorced Tomas (Erland Josephson), a medical doctor. He begins to flirt with her. He takes her to his house. She rejects sex with him, which he never offered, and leaves.
Mari, Jenny’s patient, is attacked by rapists. When Jenny comes to her aid, she attempts to call an ambulance, but two men stop her, and she is near-raped. She is with Tomas the rest of the day and at night, telling him the story, and that she wanted to have been raped. As she is in great distress, Tomas gives her some pills and drives her home.
She sleeps through the night and the next day, and missed work. Her grandparents leave for the weekend. Wracked by loneliness, she calls Tomas; she wants to go to the movies but hangs up on him. She is dizzy and she sees the old woman again. She hears the telephone, but takes the entire bottle of pills that Tomas gave her.
In a dream, she apologies to herself for her suicide attempt, speaks to her grandmother, and tells herself that she fears old people like her grandparents. She encounters an imagined Tomas, who warns her not to open the door to her deep and forgotten memories, but she opens anyway. She sees the old woman, who caresses and comforts her. Jenny wakes up in the hospital. Tomas is there. He went to find her after she hung up on him and didn’t answer when he tried calling back.
They talk, and Tomas tries to comfort her by telling her about his strict upbringing, not being allowed to burp or fart at dinner. In a second dream, she ineptly tries to deal with a crowded room of patients. Her grandfather tells her that he’s afraid of dying, and her daughter sees her and runs away.
When she wakes, her husband is there, but he tells her that he has to return to America. She tells him to tell her grandmother the truth about what happened and that she will talk to their daughter.
In the next dream, she tries to find her parents, whom she last saw at their funeral when she was nine. She is distressed by guilt and shame. When she finds them they first leave her, but when they return to comfort her, she pushes them away.
Jenny wakes up and tells Tomas about her childhood. They share deep secrets. Tomas says that he was never divorced, instead he had lost a friend, a man he lived with for five years. The conversation deteriorates and Jenny becomes hysterical. In a last dream, she attends her funeral, awaking during the cremation.
A nurse tells Jenny that her daughter wants to meet her. She tries to tell her daughter what she did and why, but it doesn’t go well. Her daughter tells Jenny that she knew that she never liked her, and she leaves. Tomas then tells her that he’s going to Jamaica for an amoral vacation and may not return.
Jenny returns to her grandmother who believes that Jenny has only been fatigued. She is distressed by her husband’s impending death. Jenny offers her some comfort and then calls the mental hospital to tell then that she’ll be in to work in the morning.
Principal cast (in credits order)
- Liv Ullmann as Dr. Jenny Isaksson
- Erland Josephson as Dr. Tomas Jacobi
- Aino Taube as The Grandmother
- Gunnar Björnstrand as The Grandfather
- Kristina Adolphson as Nurse Veronica
- Marianne Aminoff as Jenny's mother
- Gösta Ekman as Mikael Strömberg
- Helene Friberg as Anna, Jenny's daughter
- Ulf Johanson as Helmuth Wankel
- Sven Lindberg as Jenny's husband
- Jan Erik Lindqvist as Jenny's father
- Birger Malmsten as Rapist
- Sif Ruud as Elisabeth Wankel
- Göran Stangertz as Rapist
Rest of cast (in alphabetical order)
Aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports 82% approval of Face to Face based on 11 reviews. Vincent Canby was highly favorable and wrote, "Mr. Bergman is more mysterious, more haunting, more contradictory than ever, though the style of the film has never been more precise, clear, levelheaded." Roger Ebert, while calling it "confused and sometimes overwrought", awarded it three out of four stars and lauded Ullmann's performance as "one of the greatest performances in an Ingmar Bergman film" up to that point. The film is rated M in New Zealand for violence and sexual violence.
Face to Face was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film by the U.S. National Board of Review. It received nominations at the Academy Awards for Best Actress (Ullmann) and Best Director (Bergman).
She was also named Best Actress by the New York Film Critics Circle Awards, the National Board of Review and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, with the film winning Best Foreign Language Film at the latter.
It also was named by the Golden Globes as their Best Foreign Language Film of the year, with Ullmann also being nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama.
References in popular culture
At the beginning of the Woody Allen film Annie Hall, Allen's character refuses to see Face to Face after arriving a few minutes late for a showing. He instead takes Annie (Diane Keaton) to a screening of The Sorrow and the Pity.
- "Face to Face (1976)". The Swedish Film Database. The Swedish Film Institute. Archived from the original on 12 April 2014. Retrieved 20 March 2014.
- "Festival de Cannes: Face to Face". festival-cannes.com. Archived from the original on 27 September 2012. Retrieved 10 May 2009.
- Canby, Vincent (6 April 1976). "Movie Review - Face to Face". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 January 2017.
- Ebert, Roger (6 August 1976). "Face to Face Movie Review & Film Summary (1976)". Retrieved 15 January 2017.
- "1976 Award Winners". National Board of Review of Motion Pictures. 2019. Retrieved 13 August 2019.