Watch Smiles of a Summer Night
- 1 hr 48 min
Smiles of a Summer Night is a timeless Swedish comedy-drama film from 1955, directed by Ingmar Bergman. The movie takes place over the course of a single summer night in a rural Swedish town at the turn of the 20th century. The script is loosely based on A Midsummer Night's Dream, weaving a complex web of romantic relationships and entanglements that culminate in a hilarious and satisfying climax.
The film opens with Frederick Egerman (Gunnar Bjornstrand), a middle-aged lawyer, feeling sexually frustrated with his much younger wife, Anne (Ulla Jacobsson). She is still a virgin after eleven months of marriage, and as a result, Frederick is losing patience and starting to feel impotent. Meanwhile, Desiree Armfeldt (Eva Dahlbeck), a glamorous and witty stage actress, enjoys a string of passionate affairs with various men but hasn't found lasting love yet.
The main plot of the movie revolves around the interlocking romantic relationships between these three characters, along with a large cast of supporting players. The action takes place against the backdrop of a series of social events, including a decadent party at Desiree's mansion and a summer ball thrown by the local count.
As the night wears on, secrets are revealed, confessions are made, and everyone's true feelings come to the surface. Frederick and Anne are visited by Fredrik's son Henrik (Bjorn Bjelfvenstam), a melancholy divinity student who is secretly in love with Anne. At the same time, Desiree attends the party with her lover, the arrogant and unstable Count Carl-Magnus Malcolm (Jarl Kulle). Things start to get complicated when Fredrik arrives at the party and rekindles his romance with Desiree, setting off a chain reaction of jealousy, betrayal, and comic misunderstandings.
The standout performances in this film come from Eva Dahlbeck and Harriet Andersson, who plays Desiree's maid, Petra. Dahlbeck is magnetic as Desiree, delivering cutting one-liners with precision and effortless charm. She is equally adept at conveying the character's more vulnerable moments, especially when dealing with Carl-Magnus's toxic jealousy. Andersson steals every scene she's in as Petra, providing a much-needed source of levity in the midst of all the romantic melodrama. Her character is refreshingly forthright and unapologetically sexual, delivering some of the film's funniest lines without a hint of self-consciousness.
While Smiles of a Summer Night is certainly funny, it's also surprisingly poignant and philosophical. Bergman uses the characters' romantic struggles as a canvas on which to explore larger themes of love, lust, jealousy, and human nature itself. He invites the audience to question our society's hypocrisy around sex and relationships, and to ponder the ways in which we are all caught up in our own pretenses and insecurities.
Overall, Smiles of a Summer Night is a beautifully crafted film that showcases Bergman's razor-sharp wit and keen insight into the human experience. It's a timeless classic that still holds up today as a testament to the enduring power of great storytelling.
Smiles of a Summer Night is a 1955 comedy with a runtime of 1 hour and 48 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.7.