Charming and sophisticated although rather artificial. The openness about sex and desire is a little surprising in a 1950s film. Clearly Sweden was more mature about these thing than America at the time.
A beautiful movie about the world when it was still beautiful and people loved and cared for each other.
If you are wondering where to start with Ingmar Bergman's films then you can certainly start here. It's basically a musical without the music, if you know what I mean. It's a perfect experience of film making and story telling but you have to stay awake and concentrate, OK?
In the early 1900s a successful lawyer, Fredrik, married to a beautiful young wife, still hankers after a well-known actress, Desiree, with whom he had a long relationship but who is now the mistress of Count Carl Magnus, a jealous military man. Fredrik takes his wife to the theatre one night to watch Desiree perform, but from the stage she stares at him so blatantly that Anne insists on returning home and retires to bed. Fredrik promptly collects his hat and cane and leaves to meet Desiree backstage. They decide to go to a nightclub but Fredrik trips up and falls into a pool of water and they have to go back to her house to dry out his clothes. Unfortunately Desiree's lover, the Count, turns up unexpectedly to find Fredrik wearing his nightshirt, dressing gown and nightcap. To complete the six main characters of the story is Hendrik, Fredrik's son by an earlier marriage, who is in love with Anne but wont admit it, and the Count's wife who is still in love with the Count but boasts that she could seduce Fredrik inside 15 minutes. A highly entertaining, sophisticated comedy of manners and intrigue in which the discontents and yearnings of all parties are exposed and sorted out over the course of a summer night.
Bergman’s wry appraisal of the complications of love is as charming as its varied love-sick characters. The polished intricate story line of mixed-up romantic attachments blending sophisticated farce with mannered comedy, is set in upper class Sweden around the turn of the 20th century. The male leads are characterized as juvenile, egotistical and conceited while the women are depicted as strong willed and more witty and introspective. Petra the maid even advances pre-sexual revolution views, first amorously teasing her suitor and then is more than happy to hint for a literal “roll in the hay”, perhaps rather alarming for mid 1950’s audiences. Though many Bergman films have a bleak out-look, the same themes are treated here in a comic way.