Sunday, 6 July 2008

TORMENT/Frenzy (1944)

Directed by Alf Sjoberg from a script by Ingmar Bergman, TORMENT is an engrossing film. Part school drama, part rites of passage story and part thriller, with none of the elements overpowering the others. A student preparing for graduation is tormented by a sadistic teacher. One night after returning from a trip to the cinema he sees a woman seemingly unwell in the street. It turns out she is drunk and is a local shopgirl who also seems to be working part-time as a prostitute (in 1944, even in Sweden, this is not actually stated). The boy goes to her assistance and ends up spending the night with her. They begin an affair but the girl lives in terror of one of her "visitors" who turns out to be the the sadistic school master. To tell more would be unfair as this is an engrossing film with several surprising twists. Performances are excellent throughout with the lovers played by the young Alf Kjellin and Mai Zetterling. But it is Stig Jarrel as the teacher who steals the film. He reminded me of a cross between Walter Slezak and Anton Walbrook. I've commented before on this blog about the moments of pure gothic horror in many of Berman's films and there is a real heart-stopping moment in this film, which, although Sjoberg is the director, I must believe was in Bergman's script. The film ends on a real moment of hope which is beautifully conveyed. Rating ****

1 comment:

Cerpts said...

Wow, now I'm intrigued. That sounds like a good one!