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TORMENT, 1944
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  MOVIE POSTERTORMENT, 1944
Movie Reviews

Director: Alf Sjöberg

Stars: Alf Kjellin, Stig Järrel and Mai Zetterling

Review by Russell Hill

SYNOPSIS:

A young man falls in love with a troubled woman who claims that she is being tormented by a stranger.

REVIEW:

I came across this film in the bargain basement of my local DVD discount store. Selling DVD's at low prices, I was drawn to this film because it had ‘The Bergman collection' at the top of it. Although I had seen Ingmar Bergman's more famous films such as Wild Strawberries, The Seventh Seal and Summer with Monika, I didn't know that this film existed. There was a reason for this – it's not actually directed by the great man because he only wrote the screenplay. However, Torment has all the hallmarks of what we expect to see in a Bergman film.

Jan-Erik (Kjellin) is studying at school. He's not enjoying the experience, largely because his Latin teacher is a bully. Hated by other students, Jan-Erik tries his best to pass his Latin class but his teacher Caligula (Järrel) makes his life a misery. The only solace Jan-Erik has is his relationship with Bertha (Zetterling). However, Bertha's life is not straight-forward because she is tormented by a mysterious figure that keeps breaking into her flat and threatening her. Will Jan-Erik and Bertha ever find happiness?

The film is overly depressing at times but this is what draws cinephiles to Bergman's work. Although there are some films which have an element of optimism, Bergman's films are always a joy to watch. Characters in Hollywood films tend to be two-dimensional and ones which you cannot connect with. We, as the audience, can relate to their predicaments and Torment is no different. We've all been in love with someone who we didn't fully know but the relationship serves a purpose – Jan-Erik and Bertha want to escape their lives and are in the same situation as each other, especially as their misery might be caused by the same person.

Torment is directed wonderfully by Sjöberg. Although Bergman was not the celebrated director which we know of today, Sjöberg brings Bergman's idea to life. Famous for his work in the theatre, Torment does have an on-stage presence at times, especially as there are many long drawn-out scenes which would not be successful if it wasn't executed by a talented director. There are many interesting angles in Torment which makes Jan-Erik and Bertha's world a whole lot scarier. As the perpetrator of their misery comes to light, it might not be a shocking revelation but is still incredibly well done.

If you're a fan of Bergman or Swedish cinema in general, there is much to like about Torment.

ACTORAlf Sjöberg
Best of the ARTIST
ACTORStig Järrel
Best of the ARTIST
ACTORAlf Kjellin
Best of the ARTIST
ACTORMai Zetterling
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ACTOROlof Winnerstrand
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ACTORGösta Cederlund
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ACTORHugo Björne
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ACTOROlav Riégo
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TORMENT, 1944