As Agnes lays on her death bed, she is attended to by her servant, Anna, and watched over by her two sisters, Karin and Maria. Despite the tragic situation it seems that only Anna knows how to care for Agnes as the cracks between the other sisters' relationship opens to reveal ugly truths.
Anna tries desperately to console Agnes, but as her death approaches she is powerless to prevent the remainder of her family falling apart.
Director Ingmar Bergman achieves this by slowing the film down, focusing on the time flowing by as poignantly as Agnes' times slowly runs out. Meanwhile her sisters do their best to remain civil and, using flashbacks to consider their differences, Bergman adds his bit of tension into the mix.
The huge time lapse between any action also has a detrimental effect on the film, slowing it down to the point where watching clocks tick becomes very little fun. The back story of the sisters is initially confusing as the three characters aren't defined enough in their own personalities during the first flashback to figure out which sister is which.
It is a film that may require multiple viewings to understand, but based on the single viewing it was difficult to understand.