• Ingmar Bergman’s 1954 film A Lesson in Love seems like a direct answer to his intensely bleak 1953 efforts: Summer with Monika and Sawdust and Tinsel. Bergman would do this again with 1964’s All These Women– try to show off his range with some lighter fare. This is a self-proclaimed “comedy for grownups”. Though the tone is drastically different than Bergman’s strengths as an auteur- the themes are consistent. This is a story of marriage and fidelity. This is the director of many battles of the sexes- including 1973’s Scenes From a Marriage.
  • Eva Dahlbeck plays Marianne and Gunnar Björnstrand plays David. Harriet Andersson is Nix- David’s tomboy daughter.
  • Early in the film a visit to the gynecologist – comic one-liners from the nurse.
  • Very flashback heavy like much of Bergman’s work- remembering one lust-filled summer.
  • Actor-friendly closeups throughout accentuate the performers- especially in the car on the train (a tight space anyways)- Bergman’s camera is right up tight on Dahlbeck and Björnstrand.
  • A strong composition at the 39-miute mark—they are looking at a microscope in the ground with the smoke from the cigarette drifting up to the light.
  • A playful score- again- very off brand for Bergman which was probably his point- still trying to carve out some versality and show he could be Renoir.

The two-person dialogue scene at the 50-minute mark with Dahlbeck in the foreground and Björnstrand in the background is worthy of praise- it is almost like they are talking over each’s other shoulder. It is not how people talk to each other, but it makes for a very fine composition.

  • The content and the driving dramatic action is not that much different from most of Bergman’s bleak dramas—strife, conflict- but this is played at a different tone like a screwball (think of Iñárritu and how he flipped the drama of his previous efforts for Birdman). This is Bergman- infidelity and people verbally abusing and eviscerating each other. The tone though is Hawks or Capra or maybe Lubitsch—a little lighter than Renoir.
  • At the 59-minute mark Björnstrand is foreground in profile with Dahlbeck in the background.
  • The interlude in the woods at the 76-minute mark—one of Bergman’s stylistic signature moves is the staging of faces in the frame. Here the two faces are on top of each other. This section is wildly different in mood than the one that proceeds it—makes for an uneven holistic work.

one of Bergman’s stylistic signature moves is the staging of faces in the frame. Here the two faces are on top of each other– this is the year before Varda’s La Pointe Courte

  • After the fight at the bar Bergman’s camera stays across the river as Björnstrand and Dahlbeck fight across the street- an inspiring long shot.
  • A light, fluffy ending
  • Recommend but not in the top ten of 1954