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Loving Couples. Mai Zetterling. 1964. ⚂

OH MY GOD! This movie has everybody I love! Harriet Andersson! Gunnel Lindblom! Gunnar Björnstrand! Eva Dahlbeck! ETC!!!

I’ve never seen any of Zetterling’s movies (as a director), but a recent issue of Sight & Sound magazine mentioned than one of her movies is totes da bomb, so I got her Collected Works DVD box… from Italy, I think it was. Because it’s totally sold out everywhere.

Here’s the first movie in the set. I’m all excited.

[ten minutes pass]

This is, of course, teensily slightly itsy bitsily influenced by Bergman ahem, but there’s a bunch of striking shots that Bergman would never have done… but what I’m pausing for now to type (and get another glass of wine) is that it’s also striking how the technical qualities here are a bit eh. For instance, the lighting looks odd, and not on purpose, and the audio could have been clearer, and the camera movements are choppy.

I’ve seen Bergman in documentaries, and he would have shouted at the lighting, audio and camera guys SO MUCH to make them suck less, and apparently Zetterling
didn’t.

[twenty minutes pass]

It’s structurally really interesting… it’s based on three women checking into a maternity ward, but most of the time is spent in flashbacks that aren’t marked very heavily.

The time period isn’t totally clear either, but I’m guessing it’s supposed to be from Zetterling’s mother’s generation; i.e., the teens and the twenties?

It’s mostly pretty riveting, except the lesbian camp counsellor:

That’s not the way!

[more time passes]

I feel that it’s lost its focus now. Instead of being very centred on the women in the hospital and their direct memories, those remembrances have gotten… kinda… excessive. And not really about what they could have remembered much at all.

It feels like Zetterling is dropping in a complete costume drama in here at random, featuring all the characters we’ve seen so far. Is that supposed to be a fantasy? Or is it tying these characters together for real?

It’s just… diffuse…

The way they have people playing their characters over a large number of years doesn’t help with the confusion, so you have a 40-year-old woman apparently playing… mother? to a 27-year-old woman… it’s just hard to parse sometimes what Zetterling is trying to say.

[even more time passes]

So that wasn’t a fantasy? They’re all from the same household? (Ish.)

OK, I’m a bit drunk.

[the end]

The movie started off really well. It was structured as flashbacks from the women in the maternity ward and it was interesting. But then, halfway through, it switched to farcical costume drama. Badly done.

It’s just odd. And not in a good way.

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