In “Liv and Ingmar,” Liv Ullmann takes viewers on a journey through her 42-year relationship with filmmaker, lover and soul mate Ingmar Bergman. The intimate documentary, a pain-soaked valentine, should especially appeal to admirers of the Swedish angst master and the Norwegian actress he called his Stradivarius.
Directed by Dheeraj Akolkar, the film consists primarily of an interview with Ullmann, shot at the Swedish island home she and Bergman shared.
Her chronicle begins in 1965, when, at age 25, she starred in “Persona” and began a passionate affair with the then-46-year-old director. It also covers their anguished breakup in 1970 (the result of what Ullmann describes as extreme possessiveness and insecurity on Bergman’s part); Ullmann’s work in Hollywood and on Broadway; and the pair’s post-romantic friendship, which continued until Bergman’s death in 2007.
Akolkar lets Ullmann do all the talking and supply the point of view, which leaves a few frustrating holes.
But Ullmann is an engaging storyteller and, in her mid-70s, a radiant presence. Her recollections of the “painful connectedness” and artistic triumphs she shared with Bergman flow with insight and heart. (Her accounts of how Bergman cruelly let his personal anger affect his behind-the-camera direction of her are particularly precious.)
Enriched by clips from some of the 11 films Ullmann and Bergman made together, the documentary is an artist portrait, a complicated love story, and an almost Bergman-style exploration of the tangle of genuine affection and destructive need that constitutes so many human bonds.
Liv and Ingmar
Starring Liv Ullmann, Ingmar Bergman
Written and directed by Dheeraj Akolkar