That’s one side story too many, oh yes, it is!
Written By: Herbert Grevenius
Directed By:: Ingmar Bergman
There is a strong story in Törst, a compelling look at a marriage in disintegration. There’s also a few side stories, looks at past loves, that are nowhere bear as compelling and really bog down the story. Törst is what I would call a momentum movie, and every time it builds up a little momentum it loses that momentum when it takes an unneeded diversion to one of the side stories. The relationship between Rut and Bertil is where the focus of the film needs to be at, and when the film is focused on the two of them together the film is at its best.
I’m not sure what the purpose is behind the side stories, because to be honest they felt like padding more than anything else. They did set up some of the reasons for Rut’s present day actions, but what is told in about forty or so minutes could have been conveyed in about five to ten. Then there’s Bertil, who is significant to the main relationship, but the exploration of his past lover tells us next to nothing about him and why he is with Rut. Törst feels like a situation where a short film, or a film that stops around the hour mark, was all that was required.
When the side stories are removed from the equation the remaining central story is highly compelling. Ingmar Bergman, and the writer Herbert Grevenius, put a heavy focus on the female perspective. I appreciated that, and in a sense it gives us the reasoning behind the time spent with Bertil’s past lover. Her story is even more female than that of Rut’s, and through her story a small amount of better understanding is gained on Rut. However, that could have just as easily have been accomplished by spending more time with Rut and Bertil. Still, when the film is with Rut and Bertil the pairing shines and the relationship dynamics help to bolster the film greatly.
I got the sense of some of what was to come from Herr Bergman in Törst. His attention to the dynamics of a crumbling relationship as well as his willingness to empower the female perspective will become more prevalent in his future works. In Törst those elements are present and they are what make the film worth watching. Unfortunately, the film as a whole feels haphazardly put together and like a collection of interactions that don’t belong with one another. It’s still a well made film, that is interesting at times, but when it comes to what Herr Bergman is capable of with a camera, Törst is severely lacking.