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Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Human Voice (1966)

A middle aged woman (Ingrid Bergman) is distraught when her lover of several years breaks off their relationship to marry a younger woman. During a long telephone call late night, she tries to assure him that she is fine though it is clear that she is on the verge of a breakdown. Based on the 1930 play by Jean Cocteau, which had been filmed previously in 1948 by Roberto Rossellini with Anna Magnani as the woman, this is a tour de force in the hands of the right actress. It's a solo performance piece, an extended monologue, as the woman laughs, cries, lies, pleads and rages as she talks to her ex-lover (we never hear his end of the conversation). Without the right actress, it could easily become a tedious exercise. No surprise, Bergman is terrific, pushing it to the limit but never crossing over to bathos. A must for Bergman fans. Directed by Ted Kotcheff (FUN WITH DICK AND JANE).

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