Love Stories

film 3 of 5

Smiles of a Summer Night

Film Review by Dean Duncan Mar 26, 2015

Ingmar Bergman’s famous film comedy has the pretty symmetry of a minuet, or maybe the cold efficiency of a guy making watches. Either way, the clarity of all that dizzy coupling and uncoupling is quite admirable, and the final cadences are both satisfying and apt. In fact, Smiles of a Summer Night a pretty perfect primer for the French classical comedy, even if it is so manifestly set in Sweden. Sweden shows well too, in part for the way it distinguishes itself from French tradition. See all that bright and elemental Northern nature, encroaching on the civilized high-jinx of these foolish mortals. That’s the point, of course: culture and all of its vanities, all of its bourgeois morality, always submits to the sensual, or maybe the biological. This might not be the thing to teach to your young teenagers, but it’s not rank corruption either. Behind the really nice staging—patently and intentionally theatrical—and the able comedy, Bergman’s film is full of real insights, even a bit of real feeling. In fact these three smiles, and the situations attached thereto, actually accomplish archetypal heft. It’s funny, it’s troubling, it’s more than a little transcendent.