The Best Intensions Review

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The story spans 10 crucial years in the troubled relationship of a young Ingmar Bergman and Anna, a nurse. This tospy-turvey partnership, which is bless by neither party's presence prospers against all the odds.


Brought out in the UK almost a year after they hype of it's Palme d'Or winning-performance at Cannes in 1992 Danish helmsman Bille August’s beautiful but agonisingly slow romance toute de suite, didn't fair too well on these shores.

For those who caught August’s brilliant and blub-inducing 1988 offering Pelle The Conqueror this movie’s equally lengthy three-hour running time will hold little fear, but sadly The Best Intentions comes within not a country mile of Pelle’s beauty, atmosphere and sense of purpose.

Scripted by the legendary Ingmar Bergman, and following the ups and downs of his parents’ stormy liaison — dad an impoverished student pastor, mum a wealthy heiress, neither in posession of their parents’ blessing for the love-match — from 1909 to his birth in 1918, this is lyricism and Swedish angst at its most acute, with August echoing many of Bergman’s traits while stirring his own undoubted talents into the pot.

The simple fact, however, is that remarkably little actually happens here, with the Bergman’s daily life — the odd death, a family row, a tricky decision over which job to take — seeming rather like anyone else’s, and just as dull. Exquisite cinematography and fabulous acting — particlarly from August’s wife Pernilla, who deservingly swiped the Best Actress award at Cannes for her turn as Bergman’s spoilt, wealthy and impetuous mother — make up in part for the sheer lack of action or indeed much content here.

The Best Intentions adds up to a visual treat served up with huge amounts of style, but with remarkably little real passion.