Three expectant mothers from different backgrounds think back over their lives while waiting for their impending births in a Stockholm hospital. Adapted from the controversial novel by Agnes von Krusenstjerna.
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Bolder thematically than cinematically this may appear unecessarily muddled at points, but it offers a Bergmanesque examination of women's problematization of motherhood and a thinly veiled critique of the Swedish master's obsession with it. Irreverent and with a surprising gay dimension, it mingles the playful yet tormenting proceedings with some great (but self-conscious) camerawork, mainly in the exterior shots.
An excellent script by director Mai Zetterling and her husband David Hughes from the novel by Agnes von Krusenstjerna. Casting is exceptional as is the b&w cinematography of master Sven Nykvist. The sexual diversity under scored in the relationships is quite interesting for the time period and adds a somewhat subversive tone to the film. Highly recommended.
The only thing similar to Bergman in this gem is that it's in beautifully shot BW; but it's entertainingly unique in story structure, feminist antiques, aristocratic critique, and all aroung Gay Pride insolence!
This takes a fabulous turn for the queer as it nears its climax, which helps to mitigate the relentless unsatisfied "female longing" trope that dominates. Existential and campy at the same time. Was it the "examination of sex" that got her booted from Cannes, or the sacrilegious church hijinks?
Digital restoration (from the 35mm original). Cinematography by Sven Nykvist. It's not only the actors who makes me think of Ingmar Bergman, but also a script with "Sommarnattens leende" flushes helps the suggestion. Although somewhat conventional, after the summer solstice party, the film finds a contagious tone of boldness and freedom that make it very charming. Love is exclusively erotic, and that impresses.
The comparison to Bergman extends only as far as their common casting, and maybe a Nordic aesthetic. An unimaginative, artistically mediocre development of an overly literal story. The one-dimensional characters - all pathetic, vapid or vile - don't help expand possible readings of the film beyond dour, uncritical negativity and incoherent moralism. Nor do they help make it less tedious. Unimpressed. 2.5
We are all used to the tired metaphor that sees a "blossoming" evident in the young woman's emergent sexuality, and may wish to attribute Mai Zetterling's being ahead of the curve to her sensitivity re: more generalized blossomings. I must confess to being slightly baffled after a single viewing of LOVING COUPLES due to its disordered schematics, but I am nevertheless aware that it is crying out for close reading.
Intriguing and ahead of its time in many ways. It can't help but be compared to Bergman because of the cast, but you have to start somewhere, and he's as good an influence as anyone. I'm going to check out more of her films.