Exactly who is having the personality crisis in this Ingmar Bergman brainboggler is a matter of judicious ambiguity. Is it Elisabet, the despondent actor who refuses to speak, as though having given up on the whole performance of life? Is it is Alma, the looky-likey nursey tasked with caring for the keen-eyed thesp, who seems to fill her patient’s void with her own neurotic ramblings? Is it Elisabet’s rejected son? Is it the maker of the film they appear to be shooting? Or is it you, you meatball, because you just don’t get this Swedish arthouse shit?
Whichever, the celluloid on which these women are printed appears itself at times to unspool, tear up and burn through, as though their whole universe is vulnerable to conflagration. As the point where Elisabet ends and Alma begins begins to dissolve, we’re nudged to ask: is this the stuff of life as mirrored in a strip of film? Equal parts performance, predation and torment…the constant theft of each other’s masks…the infernal merry-go-round we none of us ever quite manage to get to the root of?