The first notes of a singular voice are heard in these five films (all sans DVD extras) — written, directed, or written and directed by a young Ingmar Bergman — in which the existentialist’s existentialist embarks on a cinematic relationship with the exquisite tension between self-interest and love.
The alternately chilling and oddly humorous Torment (1944) follows a brooding high school student whose romantic hang-ups are seriously complicated when his homicidally creepy Latin professor makes time with his not-so-virginal lady. B
In Crisis (1946), a fetching young country girl pulls the rug out from under her long-suffering foster mother by moving in with the cosmopolitan hairdresser who abandoned her at birth. The gradually intensifying theatricality feels like a tonal precursor to Lars Von Trier’s Dogville. A?
The downcast Port of Call (1948) involves a sensitive dockworker who pulls his hair out over his lady love’s bawdy past while she is driven to distraction by her mother’s poisonous passive aggression (played deliciously by Berta Hall). B
The disjointed but engrossing Thirst (1949) tells the stories of a hellcat ballet dancer who takes out her traumatic past on her mild-mannered husband, and a widow who fends off both an insidious psychiatrist and a hot-to-trot lesbian ex-classmate. B+
To Joy (1950), in which two violinists do their damnedest to honor their smoldering love despite their every impulse to flee the relationship, is deeply felt and deeply affecting. The ever-charming Stig Olsen, who appears throughout the collection, is all beguiling complications as the intense misfit who fights tooth and nail against true love. A