Secrets of Women
Anita Björk, Karl-Arne Holmsten, Jarl Kulle, Maj-Britt Nilsson,
Secrets of Women is essential early Bergman, offering glimpses of what is to come but with a freshness of spirit that gracefully eludes the tropes of genius. Scenes from several marriages emerge when five women, all related, gather to await the arrival of their respective husbands at an island summer house. Each agrees to tell the others a crucial episode from her marriage. With the men relegated to narrative objects, Secrets plays like Cukor’s The Women, stripped of its distanced, brittle comedy. In its place, the intimate, revealing encounter, the sudden knowledge of self and other that irreparably changes a marriage—despite appearance to the contrary. Mixing the wistful humor of averted tragedy with a rare elegiac optimism, this film announced Bergman internationally as a director with a unique understanding of women—more precisely, of what women know about men.