Persona: Who’s who and doing what?

I’m going to be honest, it was fairly hard to watch this movie. Let me explain…

The movie itself was hard to watch not because the scenes from the movie were very graphic or “for mature audiences”, but because there wasn’t too much going on in the movie. For the majority of the movie, it takes place in a cottage by the sea where the two main characters, Alma the nurse and Elisabet the famous stage actress are residing. They are there because the doctor assigned to Elisabet thought it would be best for her recovery from her sudden immobility and mute-ness. Since Elisabet is in a state where she is not speaking, it only leaves Alma to do most of the talking. This one-sided conversations are what add to the difficulty in following along to what is going on in the movie.

Alma later confirms that Elisabet has been able to talk this whole time when she (Alma) goes to confront Elisabet about a letter that Elisabet wrote revealing that she (Elisabet) is studying Alma and reveals one of Alma’s deepest secrets. This leads to many back-and-forths between Alma and Elisabet that includes Elisabet running off and Alma begging forgiveness and left me asking myself, “What’s even going on?”

My own confusion was even furthered when the husband of Elisabet comes to the cottage looking for his wife. The husband then confuses Alma for Elisabet, although Alma tries to convince him that she is not his wife, they still have sex. So again, “What’s even going on?” It is then later revealed that Elisabet tried to have an abortion, but eventually gave birth to a boy who she resents, which mirrors Alma, who got an abortion but regrets it everyday. By the end of the film it seems like Alma is having a full on identity crisis and is proclaiming that she is indeed herself. Which had me asking another question, “Who’s who and doing what?”

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