Daniel Mendelsohn at the NYRB:
This familiar Strindbergian theme is underscored in The Best Intentions by an ingenious device to which the author turns more than once: the juxtaposition of some ostensibly documentary evidence from the “real life” that he’s fictionalizing—a photograph he has found of this or that relative or an entry in someone’s diary—with his novelistic reconstruction of the person or incident in question. This technique can shed ironic light on the characters. A passage, for instance, when Bergman quotes a diary entry by Henrik’s mother, Alma, after she meets her future daughter-in-law for the first time: “Henrik came with his fiancée. She is surprisingly beautiful and he seems happy. Fredrik Paulin called in the evening. He talked about tedious things from the past. That was inappropriate and made Henrik sad.”
This text is cited, pointedly, at the end of a long passage that has dramatized the moment that Alma so tersely summarizes in her diary: the visit by Anna, the interruption of the family friend, Fredrik.