Lately, it seems, every contact with Scandinavia exposes some new form of weirdness that leaves you scratching your head. So when I saw that the next film on the 1001 movies list was Swedish, I was expecting more of the same.
But Sommarnattens leende (Smiles of a Summer Night) feels different. In fact, it feels French, in the best possible way.
It’s a romantic comedy that, unlike the juvenile stuff of today, is aimed at an adult audience. It’s not just a question of sexual themes–though there is plenty of that–but also of the maturation, the difference between younger adults and ones with a little more maturity and experience. It feels like a racier version of the Screwball comedies of the 1930s, with a slightly darker edge. If I had to design the perfect comedy, I would probably use the previous sentence as my guide.
This is Ingmar Bergman’s debut on the 1001 movies list, and we know that Bergman was a major genius, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that this one is amazing. But, though I’m not yet familiar with his work, my impression of Bergman has always been that he is a man of deep, serious films. This one is neither deep nor serious… it’s absolutely fun and naughty and delightful.
So, if you’re in the mood for a comedy that isn’t as naive and limited as what Hollywood puts out, you can do a lot worse than watch this one. Even better, it’s on YouTube with auto-translatable subtitles. The the translation isn’t perfect, but doesn’t interfere with the film.
Highly, highly recommended.
Gustavo Bondoni is a novelist and short story writer. His latest foray into literary fiction is Safe and Sorry, a look at life in the world today, from the eyes of everyone from a homeless man to a female serial killer. You can check it out here.