The Rite

The Rite (Ingmar Bergman, 1969)

Ingrid Thulin, Anders Ek, Gunnar Björnstrand

A judge in an unnamed country interviews three actors, together and singly, provoking them while investigating a pornographic performance for which they may face a fine. Their relationships are complicated: Sebastian, volatile, a heavy drinker, in debt, guilty of killing his former partner, is having an affair with that man's wife. She is Thea, high strung, prone to fits, and seemingly fragile, currently married to Sebastian's new partner, Hans. Hans is the troupe leader, wealthy, self-contained, growing tired. The judge plays on the trio's insecurities, but when they finally, in a private session with him, perform the masque called The Rite, they may have their revenge.

If you hadn't seen it, or figured it out from that almost-spoiler note: the judge has a rather unconvincing heart attack and dies in the last scene. So what? The whole thing - which I gather was shot for TV, despite having Sven Nykvist looking through the lens, is pretty ho-hum, despite the huge expectation created in the first ten minutes.

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Garry Gillard | reviews | New: 9 August, 2018 | Now: 25 April, 2019