Saturday, March 12, 2016
A Lesson in Love
Written and directed by Ingmar Bergman, En lektion i Karlek (A Lesson in Love) is the story of about a gynecologist’s marriage that falls apart after having an affair with a patient where the two meet on a train looking back on their marriage and see if there‘s a chance of reconciliation. The film is a comedy of sorts that explores the world of marriage and some of its pratfalls where a man and wife not only grow apart but also ponder if there is a future for them. Starring Eva Dahlbeck, Gunnar Bjornstrand, Yvonne Lombard, Harriet Andersson, and Ake Gronberg. En lektion i Karlek is a witty yet compelling film from Ingmar Bergman.
Set largely on a train ride from Stockholm to Copenhagen, the film revolves around a married couple whose marriage is on the rocks following a gynecologist’s affair with a patient where they suddenly find themselves riding on the same train and sharing the same compartment. There, the two pretend at first not to know each other in front of another passenger but then deal with everything that had gone wrong as well as looking back into what made them fall in love in the first place. It’s a film with an interesting premise told in a back-and-forth narrative from past and present by Ingmar Bergman. The script doesn’t just play into the marriage of the gynecologist David Erneman (Gunnar Bjornstrand) and wife Marianne (Eva Dahlbeck) but also into the events during their separation and the fact that they were friends when Marianne was supposed to marry a friend in Adam-Carl (Ake Groneberg) whom Marianne was going to meet in Copenhagen to David’s own annoyance.
Bergman’s direction does have elements of style in terms of what he is doing to tell the story in its approach to humor. Yet, it is mostly straightforward in terms of the compositions he creates in its usage of close-ups and medium shots for that sense of intimacy in the train. While there are a few wide shots in a few flashback scenes set in the Swedish countryside and port cities as well as a climatic scene at a dancehall. Bergman’s approach to the humor is quite playful as well as displaying a sense of charm in a scene where David makes a bet with a passenger that he could kiss Marianne before the next stop. The scenes outside of the train also display a sense of risqué sexuality as it adds to the sense of temptation that looms over David but also the sense of jealousy of Marianne while the flashback sequence on the moment David and Marianne fell in love is another moment that is quite intense. All of which plays into this climax at a dancehall in Copenhagen as it relates to the idea that maybe David and Marianne aren’t finished as a couple. Overall, Bergman creates a riveting yet entertaining film about a couple pondering if there’s still some life in them left.
Cinematographer Martin Bodin does excellent work with the film‘s black-and-white photography from the look of the interiors inside the train compartment as well as some of the naturalistic look of some of the exteriors near the sea and countryside that display the beauty of the family life that David and Marianne has. Editor Oscar Rosander does nice work with the editing as it is largely straightforward with a few fade-outs to help structuralize the film as well as some rhythmic cuts for the film‘s humorous moments. Production designer P.A. Lundgren does fantastic work with the look of the train compartment, David’s office, and the dancehall in Copenhagen. The sound work of Sven Hansen is terrific for its sound as it captures the sound of the train that is heard from the inside as well as the raucous moment at the dancehall. The film’s music by Dag Wiren is wonderful for its orchestral-based score that ranges from being playful in some scenes as well as some somber moments while the rest of the music range from folk to the music that people dance to in those times.
The film’s amazing cast features some notable small roles from Sigge Furst as a vicar during a wedding dinner for Adam-Carl and Marianne in a flashback scene, Dagmar Ebbesen as David’s nurse in his gynecologist office, Birgitte Reimer as an acquaintance of Adam-Carl who flirts with David, Renee Bjorling and Olof Winnerstrand as elderly relatives of David in a flashback, and John Elfstrom as David’s friend Sam who is also seen in the flashbacks as a friend of the family. Yvonne Lombard is wonderful as David’s young mistress Susanne as this young woman who would charm and seduce him as she later ponders if David will ever get serious with her. Harriet Andersson is fantastic as David and Marianne’s tomboy daughter Nix as this young woman coping with her sexuality and identity while feeling like she doesn’t belong anywhere in the world.
Ake Gronberg is excellent as Carl-Adam as this boorish and lively man who was a former flame of Marianne as well as an old friend of David until he comes back to Marianne during the split where David realizes that he hasn’t changed very much. Gunnar Bjornstrand is brilliant as David Erneman as this gynecologist who copes with the drawbacks of his affair with Susanne while thinking his marriage is over until he meets Marianne on the train as it’s a performance with some humor and restrained drama. Finally, there’s Eva Dahlbeck in a radiant performance as Marianne Erneman as a woman who is hurt by her husband’s affair where she boards a train to meet her old lover Carl-Adam where she brings a lot of energy to her performance including in a key flashback scene where she reveals why she is in love with David and not Carl-Adam.
En lektion i Karlek is a marvelous film from Ingmar Bergman. Featuring a great cast and a captivating premise that is told with such humor and heart, it’s a film that explores the many ideas of marriage while being very risqué in the idea of infidelity. In the end, En lektion i Karlek is an incredible film from Ingmar Bergman.
Ingmar Bergman Films: (Crisis) - (It Rains on Our Love) - (A Ship to India) - (Music of Darkness) - (Port of Call) - (Prison) - (Thirst (1949 film)) - (To Joy) - (This Can’t Happen Here) - (Summer Interlude) - (Secrets of Women) - Summer with Monika - Sawdust and Tinsel - Dreams - Smiles of a Summer Night - The Seventh Seal - (Mr. Sleeman is Coming) - Wild Strawberries - (The Venetian) - (Brink of Life) - (Rabies) - The Magician - The Virgin Spring - The Devil’s Eye - Through a Glass Darkly - Winter Light - The Silence - All These Women - Persona - (Simulantia-Daniel) - Hour of the Wolf - (Shame (1968 film)) - (The Rite) - (The Passion of Anna) - (The Touch) - Cries & Whispers - Scenes from a Marriage - (The Magic Flute) - (Face to Face) - (The Serpent’s Egg) - Autumn Sonata - From the Life of the Marionettes - Fanny & Alexander - (After the Rehearsal) - (Karin’s Face) - (The Blessed Ones) - (In the Presence of a Clown) - (The Image Makers) - Saraband
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