Thirty years after their divorce in director Bergman's "Scenes From A Marriage," Marianne (Ullmann) impulsively decides to pay former husband Johan (Josephson) a visit, seeking some final perspective on their fractured relationship. In the process, Marianne meets Henrik (Ahlstedt), Johan's son from his first marriage, and Henrik's 19-year-old daughter Karin (Dufvenius). Henrik and Karin live nearby and are both healing from the loss of wife/mother Anna, who succumbed to cancer two years before. In witnessing Johan and Henrik's strained relationship, and delving into the life conflicts confronting Karin, Marianne learns even more about Johan's manifold frailties. Yet imperfect as he is, she cannot extinguish the residue of affection she feels for her old spouse.
Those who recall 1973's "Scenes" will be particularly moved by Ullmann and Josephson's poignant reunion in "Saraband." But the director also includes some fresh characters to help us better understand the ones we think we already know. The sub-plot concerning Henrik's over-reliance on the lovely, talented Karin is heartrending, as is the nasty, unbridgeable divide between father and son. Ullmann's Marianne, wiser and more observant than before, calmly tries to make sense of all this dysfunction, right along with us. A worthy swan-song for the octogenarian director, "Saraband" is piercing, profound, and altogether brilliant.