Ethan O'Brien’s review published on Letterboxd:
This is my favourite film and I've now seen it probably over 10 times so for this review I'd like to write a bit more than just a line or so.
There's something this film does better than any other I've seen. Something lacking in devout attention with a lot of films I've seen. Something that I believe in order to capture the complexity and essence of a person, needs to be present and is so difficult to focus on and explore in a film.
This is duality. The ability to be more than one thing, to occupy 2 different mindsets, 2 opposing views, 2 contrasting beliefs, to be in total contradiction with oneself. One of what I feel to be the most vital parts of my own personality is to feel my "notions of life don't accord with my actions." I couldn't tell you the amount of times a day I do things or say things that completely go against myself in every way in this perfect harmony of internal conflict. To do contrary to what you think and to think contrary to what you do and Persona encapsulates the perception of living in more than 1 state of mind so masterfully.
A mother who hates the son she decided to have pitted against
a woman who regrets the son she decided not to have.
A extrovert who resorts to hiding herself from the world in a silent protest pitted against an introvert who wants nothing but to express her deepest sentiments of inherent insecurity.
An actress so empty inside she struggles to comprehend her own indifference, needing to consume pitted against a nurse so wreaked with guilt, she lets herself be consumed (#Lesbianvampires).
A theme like duality could only really be explored in such a way with 2 separate but entangled entities: both Alma and Elisabet. Starting off as very distinct people who gradually become merged in a a super-positional web of each others darkest and deepest depths.
There is something frighteningly beautiful about watching two people come together and fuse in almost absolution. The same way our mind may be fragmented, but whole in a sense. Receiving juxtaposing pieces of information and having to come to a conclusion on which to follow through with. Judging two sides of the same coin.
We constantly wrestle with ourselves and our anxieties, desires, remorse, hopes and perhaps most importantly: the versions of ourselves we put on for show and the ones we keep solely to ourselves. This is conflict as its purest and most human. Most innate.
Evidently, the 2 striking central performances, the minimalist mise en scene, the dissonant score, the stark lighting, the metaphysical imagery, the eloquent dialogue, the intriguing narrative, the freedom for interpretation all add to my complete adoration of this work of art. But, at the core of Persona, what it gets spot on, is it's portrayal of how we function. Of how we live. Delivered to us in a symbolically gift-wrapped box of concealed enigmas.
I saw this for the first time a little over a year ago, but it's come to really shape the way I view films, the way I write stories and the way I think about my own identity.
Of course the tremendous and intrinsic beauty of Persona is that everything I've said so far is true whilst at the same time, none of it is.
If I could give this 6/5. I would.
(I hope I get at least 1 like for this. That would mean a lot.)
Right, now to finish Blue Velvet.