Luke Whittle’s review published on Letterboxd:
The last film I am doing after a series of nostalgic revisits for a week. And I decided to do a Bergman film, so why not Persona? Although I did say Stalker is the ultimate art film, I would say maybe Persona is perhaps a definite second.
It is the textbook psychological film, although Bergman does mostly psychological films anyway, apart from maybe the the underrated yet somewhat flawed awesomeness that is Hour of the Wolf, this is by far the most psychological film. To summarise, it is about the nurse Alma who investigates the famous actress Elizabet, who lost the mental capacity to speak as an attempt to shy away from her almost cancerous life. Yet the more she delved deeper down, she and we discover that Alma is almost exactly living the same life as Elizabet, as if they are one entity.
Suffice to say its themes of cold and fearful existentialism almost makes this a psychological horror and certainly has undertones of such, whereas Hour is certainly a psychological film. It is one of the few films I felt totally uncomfortable, much like Hour did.
I felt like travelling inside one brain, and the travel is inescapable and the sharp black and white tones help amplify the effect. Not to mention the sound design (another film recommended for class alongside Stalker, Russian Ark and Sayat Nova) , the eerie almost alien soundtrack, the symbolic facial imagery and photographic effects. Not to mention the avant garde structure, the beginning, middle and end both have films running and burning up to non-existence, with collection of rather dark imagery. And the second half slightly and subtly deconstructs itself and becomes more disjointed, the more Alma's psychology seemingly breaks down.
Whilst it is only second only to The Seventh Seal as my favourite Bergman film, it is by far the furthest Bergman did psychologically and experimentally. Even though there are possibly easier films to enter into world cinema or to "understanding it" (the statement is so condescending it is unbelievable), it is certainly one of the entry points to experimental or even slow world cinema.