Jenny Isaksson (Liv Ullmann), a seemingly stable, contented psychiatrist in her prime, fills in for the senior physician in their clinic during the summer months. Since her husband and her daughter are away, she temporarily moves in with her grandparents (Aino Taube and Gunnar Björnstrand). There she has a kind of hallucination: she sees a very stern-looking old woman – a first indication of Jenny’s approaching breakdown. At a party she gets to know the gynaecologist Professor Tomas Jacobi (Erland Josephson), and they become intimate friends, without becoming involved in a sexual relationship. He soon becomes Jenny’s doctor and main support when the psychic pressure becomes too great for her and she attempts to commit suicide.
Jenny’s nightmares and hallucinations lead her back into the world of her childhood, which was marked by strict upbringing, punishment and humiliation, a world full of anxiety that Bergman has often depicted. In a final struggle with her demons, Jenny assumes the split role of disciplinarian and child. When the dialogue between her two selves comes pouring out of her, it gives rise to a kind of catharsis that leads the way to her recovery.
ANSIKTE MOT ANSIKTE is a tour de force for actress Liv Ullmann, who is present in almost every scene of the film, which was originally shot as a four-part TV production. For her performance she was nominated for an Academy Award, among other distinctions; the film won a Golden Globe as Best Foreign Language Film in 1976.
by Ingmar Bergman
with Liv Ullmann, Erland Josephson, Aino Taube