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Persona

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭   Read critic reviews

Sweden

1966

1h 25m

Director Ingmar Bergman

Starring Bibi Andersson, Liv Ullmann, Margaretha Krook, Gunnar Björnstrand

Genre Drama

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Young nurse Alma is put in charge of Elisabeth, an actress who is seemingly healthy in all respects, but will not talk. Alma speaks to Elisabeth constantly, but she never receives an answer. As the two form a strange bond, Alma’s insecurities around her identity lead to her projecting onto Elisabeth. Slowly, Alma's personality is submerged into Elisabeth's persona.

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WHAT ARE PEOPLE SAYING?

Stella Rumble Profile picture for Stella Rumble

This film is hauntingly gorgeous. The relationship between Alma and Elizabeth is so nuanced and slow-building and is explored in a truly fascinating way, not just with the dialogue, setting and acting, but also with the experimental use of the camera and nontraditional use of time. The film delves into questions of identity, subjectivity, and the fragility of the "persona" in a fascinating and engaging way.

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WHAT ARE CRITICS SAYING?

70

Time by

Persona (the ancient Latin word for mask) is too deliberately difficult to rank with Bergman's best. But in an era when the director who dares to repeat himself is rare indeed—when the cinematic world is full of one-shot wonders, Bergman's consistency is itself refreshing.
50

Chicago Reader by Dave Kehr

Ingmar Bergman's best film, I suppose, though it's still fairly tedious and overloaded with avant-garde cliches.
100

Total Film by Jamie Graham

It explores two of the filmmaker’s pet themes – the impossibility of true communication, the futility of art – and is set against the Vietnam War. Extraordinary.
80

The New Yorker by Richard Brody

Bergman blends a theatrical subjectivity—scenes of the inner life that defy physical reality and depend on special effects, whether in the film lab or on set—with a tactile visual intimacy, with his characters, the objects close at hand, and the superb coastal landscape.
90

The Dissolve by Scott Tobias

Persona feels like an act of disclosure on Bergman’s part, with him pulling back the curtain to acknowledge the fantasy of filmmaking and global realities that linger in his mind.

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