Chicago Sun-Times - 01/07/2001
"...PERSONA is film we return to over the years, for the beauty of is images and because we hope to understand its mysteries..."
Total Film - 03/01/2003
"...Every bit as intellectual as it sounds, PERSONA is made up of clinical compositions, austere acting and stark lighting....It's this very severity that gives the film it's crisp beauty..."
USA Today - 07/31/2007
"[T]his probably was the art house film of the era and a major influence on Robert Altman's 3 WOMEN."
PERSONA is an intense and unsettling study of the symbiotic relationship between Alma, a nurse (Bibi Andersson), and Elisabeth (Liv Ullmann), an actress who has mysteriously lost the power of speech. To bring about her patient's recovery, Elisabeth's doctor asks Alma to accompany her to a private cottage by the sea. In this isolated setting, the two women fall into a strange state of codependency laced with jealousy and resentment--and eventually, their identities begin to merge. PERSONA is considered one of Ingmar Bergman's greatest cinematic accomplishments and should not to be missed by anyone seriously interested in film.
PERSONA opens with a sequence of disassociated and disturbing images--a nail is driven into someone's hand, an animal is slaughtered, a boy is seated in front of the gigantic projection of a woman's face. As the story begins in flashback, Elisabeth Vogler (Liv Ullmann), an acclaimed stage actress, suddenly freezes up in the middle of a performance. She has suffered a breakdown and is now either unable or unwilling to speak. Elisabeth's doctor decides to send her to a seaside cottage on a retreat and asks Alma (Bibi Andersson), a dedicated young nurse, to accompany the patient. As the days go by, in order to elicit a response from her ward, Alma finds herself discussing her most intimate secrets, which Elisabeth seems to silently absorb. Eventually, Alma begins voicing the other woman's thoughts, and to her horror, she realizes that their minds and personalities are merging.
In addition to its narrative properties, PERSONA is highly innovative on a formal level, and often seems a comment on the medium of cinema itself. Bergman considered this movie and CRIES AND WHISPERS to be his two most groundbreaking cinematic achievements.