Friday, June 1, 2012

Random Movie Review: Cries & Whispers

Cries & Whispers (1972 - Swedish w/English subtitles)

Starring: Harriet Andersson, Liv Ullmann, Ingrid Thulin

I have to admit, when this movie got going, I thought it was going to be one of those foreign stylistic movies that are good in their own right, but outside of my realm of comprehension. However, once the story gets going, I was hooked in. Don't get me wrong, there was PLENTY of stylization, but the dialogue took a while to get going and I thought it would be more like one of those indie art films that they poke fun at on Simpsons or Family Guy, where you have to figure out what the director is trying to say from a series of disconnected scenes.

The movie is set in Sweden in the early 20th Century and revolves around a woman dying of cancer, her caretaker and her two sisters. The story swims through flashbacks of all of the womens' sinister pasts, which starts to explain the discordance of their present. One of the most powerful devices in the film is the backdrop of the house. The house is the setting for many of the scenes, both past and present, and the walls of the room are painted a bold red, as well as red carpeting and decor. This atmosphere really sets the tone of death, anger and regret; themes frequently visited throughout the story. There are also two very powerful scenes involving the dying/deceased woman. One where she goes into a convulsion/screaming fit not long before she dies, and one where she is speaking to the women posthumously and the sisters won't have anything to do with her. The convulsion one spoke loudly to me, as it was something I witnessed with my mother. I have read that this is not an abnormal thing to happen when someone is dying, which makes sense because really, who wouldn't scream about that? The posthumous scene is one that sums up everything the sisters feel throughout the movie and that they haven't gotten past anything at all.

The tension built in this movie had a lot of impact, while managing to be only minimally uncomfortable, save for a couple of scenes. As I said before, it took a while to get going and also there was one really bizarre flashback scene, but it was otherwise really good. I give it a 8/10.

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