Brink of Life (1958)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Psychological Drama  |   Run Time - 83 min.  |   Countries - Sweden   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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It's tempting write off Ingmar Bergman's Brink of Life as a throw-off piece from a director best known for his ambitious and complex explorations of the human psyche. Clearly filmed on a modest budget, employing a small cast and only a few sets and running just over 80 minutes, the film doesn't seem to be reaching for much more than a slice of life. But in dealing with three disparate women and their very different concerns over childbirth, Bergman does suggest much more than is evident at first. (And can any filmmaker match Bergman's resume for its concern with female characters and their dilemmas?) Cecilia (Ingrid Thulin) is the initial focus, and her anxiety over her physical condition becomes more understandable once her husband pays her a visit in her room. Stina (Eva Dahlbeck) comes off as calm about her impending delivery, leaving her unprepared for a devastating turn of events. Hjoerdus (Bibi Andersson) is the neediest of the trio, certain that she is facing a pregnancy with no support from anyone. There aren't any deep discussions held here, there is a cheery scene in another room with new mothers all gratefully nursing their newborns, and the wrap-up is much less bleak than in most Bergman films. The film's main virtue is its trio of central performances, which won a collective prize at the Cannes Film Festival. Thulin as always suggests strong undercurrents of emotion behind her handsome face, Andersson hits the right notes of youthful yearning, and Dahlbeck has one great wordless scene after her delivery that eloquently expresses the depths of Stina's despair.