Faithless (2000) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Original Swedish title:Trolösa

Even though cinema's legendary Ingmar Bergman is about 85 years old, he's still active in film. As I write this, he is writing and directing a project called Saraband. Three years ago, he wrote Faithless, and it was directed by his former star and former lover, Liv Ullman. The film comes with the heavy burden of high expectations. Bergman is a candidate for the title of "greatest director ever". Liv has written and directed several of her own films, and is arguably the biggest female star in Scandinavian history.


Full-frontal nudity from Lena Endre (F) and Krister Henrikkson (M)
As Bergman lives out his old age, he has somewhat isolated himself on an island, away from the hustle and bustle of modern life. As you might expect, this sort of life has a profound impact on the type of material he creates.

And he wasn't that cheerful a guy to begin with.

In essence, this film is about Ingmar Bergman writing this film. An old man named Bergman is writing away about characters based upon himself and two people he knew, reliving an incident in his own life some sixty years earlier when he contributed to a great tragedy by having an affair with a married woman. As he sits and writes in his study, he discusses the incident with the wife he seduced. It is only as the story unfolds that we realize that the woman he is talking to can't be there. The woman in his study is the same age as she is in the flashbacks, even though Bergman has aged 60 years. Bergman is actually talking to one of his characters, employing a writer's technique to understand the character's perspective.

DVD info from Amazon

  • full screen 4:3 (made for TV?)

  • no features

  • In Swedish, with English subtitles.

That's what happens when you're old and live on a frozen island. You end up spending too much time with your memories and rehashing your life. If you are a great screenwriter, you turn the rehashing into a script.

The film is basically a stage play, and could easily be tweaked so that it could be performed on stage with four actors or even three actors playing the three-and-half parts. (The adulterer is a younger version of the old writer, so I guess one actor could play both parts.) The script basically consists of people examining and re-examining their lives honestly, in 148 minutes of talk. It is a movie for a very small niche of Bergman admirers. The people who admired it praised its complete honesty, and I guess that is fair praise. I found it slow going.

The Critics Vote

  • Consensus: three to three and a half stars. Roger Ebert 3.5/4, BBC 4/5

The People Vote ...

  • Box Office: not much. Basically only people curious about Bergman, I guess. $700,000 in the USA, $400,000 in Sweden, $200,000 in Norway.


The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this is a C, a movie which is competent and subtle, but will be painfully dull for 99% of the world.

Return to the Movie House home page