Summer with Monika (Ingmar Bergman, 1953)

Summer with Monika
Ok, this is Bergman so it’s not going to be a gross-out comedy but it’s a lot lighter in tone than the last couple of his films I’ve seen, even if you can see the writing on the wall as things start to go wrong.

Harry Lund (Lars Ekborg) is a young, quiet and shy man working, not too assiduously, at a packing centre for glass and ceramics. Whilst taking a not unreasonable but nor sanctioned by the bosses coffee break at a nearby cafe, he is basically chatted up by flirty, flighty Monika (Harriet Andersson) and they start going out together. We see how Harry, raised by his semi-invalid father after the early death of his mother, is brought out of his shell a little by the younger and seemingly more confident Monika though, she too, has family issues, with a riotously chaotic home life and a drunkard father. Monika is also the object of some pretty rough sexual harassment at her job in a grocer’s and is pursued by an ex-boyfriend whose attentions she cannot shake.

Both giving up their jobs, they take their little money and the boat belonging to Harry’s father and chug down the river and along the coast to enjoy an idyllic summer of love away from the city and its unwelcome associations. Dreaming of their perfect future, they are clearly going to have to face some uncertain times when their summer is over, and neither of them seem quite ready to grow up yet.

The two leads seem real to me and there is something a little heartbreaking in seeing their dreams unravel, even if they can each be just as irritating as real people can be. It has to be said, also, that the end of the film is a little miserable but, then, what do you expect?

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