Summer with Monika (Bergman, 1953)
I will never understand why filmmakers, at times, take a story about life and turn it into a life story. Summer with Monika falls victim to that. I mean, it even says in the title that this is about a summer with Monika! So, why Bergman why, did you have to expand this to cover the years following the focal summer, especially since it led to a shift in tone?
As the young couple drift away on his dad’s boat to a land where they only exist with each other, a tenderness accompanies their escape as they sit by campfires, dance on the rocks, and play house. Their surroundings are gorgeous and are captured with care; brief shots of stunning landscape and shadow are mixed with delicate, meditative extended takes – a perfect blend. The life they build in seclusion is intriguing and with conflict, so the need to create even more conflict after they return to civilization is unnecessary. (By the way, the scene where they travel home might be one of the most sublime scenes ever; the movie should have ended very shortly after.) The final third feels like a junior high play where young-ins dress up as adults and everyone thinks it’s so cute to see them act so dramatic and grown up. I will say, Harriet Andersson’s performance is so good, she does a pretty good job pulling it off, but I still don’t care for this section. 8.25/10