What an exasperating book! Bergman is one of my favourite movie actors, she led a genuinely fascinating life and came into contact with such intriguing figures as Hitchcock, Robert Capa
and, of course, Roberto Rossellini
is a comprehensive and obviously well-researched account.
The problem, and it is a major one, is that Spoto can see no wrong in his subject's personality, actions or artistic achievements. Every performance is dazzling, every turkey is somebody else's fault. Every good call is evidence of a shining intellect, every mistake is unavoidable. When the critics offer praise they are always correct, when they write negative reviews they are short-sighted or vindictive. The nadir comes when an example of Bergman's poetry is offered up as an example of her amazing facility for light verse, but what we are actually given is 2 pages of doggerel.
Spoto's artistic judgements are also questionable, particularly his frankly insulting dismissal of Rosselini's achievments. I was also concerned about the apparent elisions over Bergman's pre-war flirtation with Goebbels' UFA
It takes a bit of reading between the lines, but Bergman emerges as a sympathetic figure. Prone to horrific misjudgements in her love life and lacking self-awareness, but she was a superbly intuitive performer and a loyal friend.