Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Wild Strawberries. A-
The idea of a genius realizing he knows little about actual life isn't a foreign one to audiences. One only needs to look at the ever so popular Gus Van Sant drama, Good Will Hunting, in which Matt Damon plays a kid with a gifted brain who realizes the extent of his genius does not go beyond academics. But to really see this idea put to good use, I strongly suggest seeing Ingmar Bergman's Wild Strawberries, from 1957. It's about an aging doctor who goes on a car trip to attend a ceremony honoring his great achievements. Both by the passengers he takes along and some strange dreams, we see that the doctor has not lived life to its fullest, despite his medical contributions. But this is a Bergman film, so there's no great moment of self-discovery in which the doctor realizes his limitations in the field of human understanding. Instead the film has a lyrical quality, a smooth texture that elegantly looks at the situation and lets us fully dissect it. At 91 minutes, Bergman, always a master at fitting a lot into a little, gives us just enough information to make a complete assessment of this character. It's a fascinating look at a confused soul, almost subtle to a fault in the way it quietly examines different aspects of the doctor's life. There are many wonderful scenes in the movie, my favorite being one where Bergman regular Max Von Sydow shows up and lets us know just how admired the doctor really is. He's a great man for sure, but in all great men there is almost always something missing. That's what Bergman seems to be saying with this sumptuous road movie.