One of film history’s great tragicomedies, Bergman’s internationally-acclaimed Smiles of a Summer Night is a bittersweet portrayal of the laws of attraction among four women and four men in turn-of-the-century Sweden.
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Who knew Bergman had such a charming, giddily sexy comedy in him? Really fun stuff, but not without the director's incisive, provocative commentary on romantic relationships. Everyone is seeking something functional and complimentary; Romeo & Juliet's codependent melodrama is heavily satirized. Love is a matter of patience and timing here, something Bergman both laments and celebrates.
What do you know, Ingmar Bergman could be charming when he wanted to. He slowly thickens the stew to a level of comic-romantic entanglement that would make Lubitsch or Renoir break a sweat, and brings it together for a gorgeous ending. And somehow he includes the Bergman philosophizing—on aging, god, sex, memory, etc.—without the lightness ever flagging. Even a director's minor films deserve 5 stars sometimes.
At times I felt like I was watching a Lubitsch film because of the light and satirical touch Bergman applies to the thorny world of male-female relationships. But underneath it all this film is just as depressing as anything Bergman has made. His morbid view of romantic love is something I can relate too. There are so many touches of genius here, and I love how Bergman seamlessly mixes laughs with depression.