Summer with Monika (Sommaren med Monika)

Summer with Monika

We have each other… haven’t we?

In addition to adding another Hitch, the editors have added another Bergman as well. This time, it is one of his earlier works, Summer with Monika, a film that had a large part in establishing Sweden as a country of free sexuality. Watching it, I can understand why, even if said notions are tame in comparison to the sexuality of today; this must have been pretty eye-opening for the 1950s. That said, though, I’m not convinced that said position as a forerunner of the so-called era of Swedish sexuality is enough to put this one on the list, as aside from that, this was a pretty standard Bergman picture. I liked it, but I tend to like Bergman, so just saying I liked it doesn’t say much, and only saying that might say more than I otherwise could.

The story is a simple one, like most, if not all, of Bergman’s films. Monika is a spirited young woman with a largely antagonistic relationship with her family. She meets a young bloke named Harry; they hit it off, and after a fight with her family, she and Harry steal Harry’s father’s boat and live an idyllic summer together, until the idyllic lifestyle begins to erode and the real world and its problems rear their ugly heads once again. Bergman has some fun with light and the camera with this one, almost like he’s exploring what he and his cinematographer can do. He also does a lot more with music than I remember in his films, or maybe it’s just that the music used here was more noticeable. Other than that, the only thing of any note was the story, which while optimistic at first, slowly begins to grow dour and moody like damn near every Bergman film that traces the middle of the pack.

As I said in the opener, there’s really not a whole lot here to make this stand out from the rest of Bergman’s work, which of course raises the question as to why they added this, rather than leave Bergman’s presence on the list unaltered. Really, if the inaugural list had included this and not included another of Bergman’s lesser works, I probably wouldn’t have noticed the difference, which pretty much says all there is to say about this one. If you’re a fan of Bergman (and I am), this won’t be too bad a way to spend another hour and a half or so. If you’re not, however, this will probably have little to offer you.

Arbitrary Rating: 7/10


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