Persona ★★★★½

Persona is a film by legendary filmmaker Ingmar Bergman which tells the story of a young nurse named Alma (Bibi Andersson) who has been assigned to take care of an actress named Elisabet Vogler (Liv Ullmann). Elisabet has not been diagnosed with any specific ailment, seemingly in a perfect normal state of health and mind, yet she has suddenly and inexplicably become mute. The one sided conversations between the pair eventually lead to Alma opening up to Elisabet in ways she had not done so with anyone else, telling her very graphic stories and details of her life. What follows is confusing, shocking, disturbing, and brilliant cinema.

The biggest compliment I can pay to this film is, when it was over I had to ask myself, what the shit did I just watch? Depending on the tone, asking myself that question doesn't guarantee it was a positive film experience, since I think I asked that same thing after finishing such atrocities as The Number 23 and Freddie Got Fingered. With Persona though, the lingering confusion after the final frame left the screen reminded me greatly of my initial reaction to the David Lynch masterpiece Mulholland Drive. I didn't understand that film after one viewing, much like I couldn't fully wrap my mind around Persona here tonight, but the films are so expertly crafted and ridiculously compelling, all you want to do is give it another spin as soon as possible and enjoy the ride.

Persona is a far more troubling, unsettling experience than most horror films I have ever seen. The imagery, the camera work, and the tone of the film are so uncomfortable and unnerving, I imagine this is the type of work that will linger in my mind long after each screening of the film. The perfect pacing of the film along with the fact that it is only 82 minutes long makes it enticing to come back again and again and again, hopefully to discover what makes this film so incredible on a deeper, richer level.

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