Available again from the Bergman centenary comes an elegant novel structured as a series of five “conversations” that reveal Bergman’s mastery of dialogue and gift for setting.
Revisiting the autobiographical themes he first explored in his novel The Best Intentions, Ingmar Bergman’s Private Confessions presents the relationship between Anna, an impetuous young woman, and her husband Henrik, a somber pastor, living in 1920s Sweden. Imprisoned in a stifling marriage, which she rushed into against her mother’s wishes, Anna begins an affair with Tomas, a theology student. While she seems to find in her affair the pleasure that is lacking in her marriage, Anna is soon overcome with guilt and engages in a series of “confessions” to those closest to her—her childhood pastor, her mother, her best friend, even her husband. Each conversation reveals more of what drove Anna to her infidelity: a loveless marriage, a search for forgiveness, a questioning of God yet a need to have faith in something. However, with each successive conversation we also come to realize that Anna can obtain neither solace nor absolution from her confessors.
With the vividly poetic imagery and dialogue one would expect from Bergman, Private Confessions poignantly explores the complexities of human relationships and the universal need for love.