November 14, 2007
Monika.As J Hoberman notes in the Voice, there's a lot of Ingmar Bergman on New York screens right about now. But one film's the highlight of the bunch: "When revived in Paris, then-critic Jean-Luc Godard hailed Monika in a frenzy of enthusiasm as 'the cinematographic event' of 1958... Bergman's tale of heedless teenage love is a sort of neorealist Rebel Without a Cause - except that sex is acknowledged and the outlaw is a girl." "Shot in rich black and white, Monika shows a director in absolute control of his medium and its singular expressivity," writes Manohla Dargis in the New York Times. "In the early city scenes Bergman crowds the frame with objects and people, creating a sense of claustrophobia for the lovers and for those of us watching them struggle to find a place of their own. Once they make their escape, the jammed, Cubistic cityscape gives way to pastoral vistas that melt into one another as the shimmering sun dissolves into images of glistening water and a sky as sheltering as it is limitless." Updated through 11/15. At the IFC Center through November 27. Update, 11/15: "By Monika's closing scenes, Bergman's original opposition between the bubbly young couple and the assortment of unhappy adults (bosses, co-workers, neighbors and parents) has collapsed into itself: Monika and Harry, now separated, epitomize the misery they wanted so badly to escape," writes Benjamin Sutton in the New York Press. "This relentlessly tragic narrative, longtime Bergman collaborator Gunnar Fischer's outstanding cinematography and the central pair's impeccable acting, make Monika a fully realized Bergman psychodrama, rather than an early model for his later work." "Ingmar Bergman made eleven films before his breakthrough, Summer with Monika (1952), where he seemed to be stimulated by filming his lover at the time, Harriet Andersson, a bluntly carnal brunette," writes Dan Callahan at the House Next Door. "Andersson is also crucial to his next film, Sawdust and Tinsel (1953)." This would be "Bergman's first film where the idea of humiliation, specifically sexual humiliation, becomes crucial to his conception."
Posted by dwhudson at November 14, 2007 7:27 AM