Owen Gleiberman
July 10, 2002 AT 04:00 AM EDT

A Song for Martin

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
PG-13
runtime
118 minutes
Limited Release Date
06/28/02
performer
Viveka Seldahl, Sven Wolter, Reine Brynolfsson, Linda Kallgren
director
Bille August
distributor
First Look
author
Bille August

We gave it an B-

In A Song for Martin, the agony of seeing a loved one fall into the abyss of Alzheimer’s disease receives a more vivid, less sentimental treatment than it did in the tender but sodden ”Iris.” Yet an essential dramatic quandary remains: As the affliction strikes, the Alzheimer’s victim — in this case, a celebrated conductor-composer in the jaunty prime of late middle age — begins to recede not just from life but from the audience as well.

Barbara (Viveka Seldahl), an orchestral violinist, seizes one last chance at happiness by throwing over her dead marriage for Martin (Sven Wollter), who comes sweeping through town with the lordly swagger of a Swedish Leonard Bernstein. Before long, Martin’s memory starts to slip away, then his manners, then the core of his mind. The movie, for all its sincerity, becomes clinical and repetitious, though its unsparing vision of the fragility of identity can give you a shudder.

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