Cinema: Cooling Gloom

AUTUMN SONATA Directed by Ingmar Bergman

A woman of about 40 sits at the piano, somewhat haltingly playing a Chopin prelude. A second woman, perhaps 20 years older, wearing an expression that is meant to show patience, listens to the end, offers a teaspoonful of praise, then takes over the piano herself, makes a show of shutting the music rack and flexing her fingers, and plays the piece superbly, from memory. The performance is a cruelty, and the face of the younger woman shows that it has had its intended effect.

The two women are mother and daughter, and their combat, on...

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