Written by Michael Clawson
“Let the play begin”, says a narrator as the camera pushes toward the window of a house from outside, while inside, a woman opens the window’s curtain. It marks the beginning of the film as well as Bergman’s career, this being his debut, and evident immediately is an idea that would run throughout his filmography: life as theater.
About that narration: it’s not great. Neither is the movie in general, but it’s fine, and better than its reputation suggests. It’s about 18 year-old Nelly and her foster mother, whose quiet, small-town lives are upended when Nelly’s biological mother arrives suddenly, and lures Nelly away to the city with the promise of a job and urban pleasures. Nelly’s foster mother is ill and devastated to see Nelly go, and things go awry for Nelly when she gets mixed up with her biological mother’s younger lover.
Some characters are much better developed than others, and the tone can be inconsistent. Bergman reveals a natural sense for composition though, and the film’s visual appeal took me far enough. A flawed but still interesting movie about maternal grief and disillusionment in young adulthood.
Crisis is currently streaming on The Criterion Channel and a restored version is currently available for free on YouTube from the channel Old Films Revival Project.