Something about Danny and Diane’s opening song from Grease comes to mind all throughout the watching of this film. I just watched on as the story of Monika and Harry having this intensified summer fling that included absconding off with a boat and riding the rivers living off the land and each other.
There are very few films that are sex. Films sell sex all the while, from Nymphomaniac to Magic Mike sexuality is on display, but there core is never quite focused on sex and sexual tensions as much as this film is.
At first glance the film follows the generic teen romance tropes, some of which even exist in films like Moonrise Kingdom, where it’s this young innocent love and it turns as things become more serious (through pregnancy). However, what I loved is how this film frames sex. As we watch Monika naked on the beach running away from Harry, then again on the boat laying down dressed (see post photo). Repeatedly we never lose that understanding of Monika’s sexual desire or magnetism. Though we never reduce her to just that. It isn’t something that the movie makes us want to attain and just that, it’s seen as power. We see Monika sit up broad shouldered and powerful. It’s exactly what changes sexy to beautiful without making it feel dumb.
Ingmar Bergman is a filmmaker who I’m now mildly acquainted with and somehow even when I don’t love his stories I’m consistently fascinated with his filmmaking. I don’t know if it was the water in Sweden, but fantastic looking movies come out of that country. Mr. Bergman has a knack for mixing actors with framing in a way that I feel more and more is missing from current cinema. The only film in the last decade that has come close to what Bergman was doing in the 50s was last year’s Polish sensation Ida. There are times watching a Bergman film where I eventually become aware that there is a world outside of the frame and at any given moment something can appear to either support further my idea of the world that is his film or completely redefine it. In this film there’s a scene in particular that I love which involves Harry in the shop he works; you spend so much time focusing on Harry and his supervisor, that’s breathing down his neck, that it’s not until half way through the scene you see someone pop in through a window when he accidentally breaks something. The job feels so claustrophobic that you forget of the world outside that Harry fawns for, which leads him to go off for the summer, that when it barges into his life again with nothing but disdain and criticisms for his mistake it hurts and makes it more desirable to leave.
I can never quite explain Bergman to the world as well as other more refined voices on the internet discussing film, but to put it in a way that I’m sure many older gentlemen have said to the young, ‘I don’t know what it is… but that young man has IT’.