When 17 year-old Lena Svensson (Christina Lindberg) goes missing after cheating on her boyfriend, Jan (Björn Adelly), a call is put out to local media. She is subsequently spotted hitchhiking across Sweden, where she’s eventually picked up by couple Lars (Janne Carlsson) and Ulla (Birgitta Molin) who drive her to a cottage belonging to Jan’s mother. Eventually Jan catches up with her in an attempt to talk things over, whereupon he learns of Lena’s sexual exploits involving a spot of photography. It turns out she’s now being blackmailed by a man named Helge (Heinz Hopf),who is threatening to use the photos against her unless she continues attending his dirty parties.
An early starring vehicle for Christina Lindberg and a film made primarily because director Gustav Wiklund couldn’t break into mainstream cinema, Exposed [Exponerad] serves up an interesting mixture of sleaze and psychoanalysis, which garnered it quite the reputation when it played to audiences during the 1971 Cannes Film Festival. Wiklund’s attempts in turning a T&A picture into a morally ambiguous coming of age tale is quite impressive given the small scope here; helped immeasurably in that the production house (like many of the time) didn’t give much of a shit what he did for them as long as it met one or two simple requirements. Sure enough then Exposed isn’t without its share of nudey bits, but it’s all rather laid back in its delivery, refusing to greatly emphasise on sexual acts in favour of presenting an unusual narrative told via a series of flashbacks and personal fantasies. In fact it’s almost hard to believe the press blurb which states that it was banned in 37 countries when it’s apparent years later that this was a film with other purposes on its mind other than trying to simply titillate through the cheapest of means.
However, that’s not to say that Wiklund’s film is anything truly profound. Although his handling of Lena’s feverish imagination - which ends up running the course of events - is commendable and refreshingly open for interpretation, he clearly has little breadth of ideas on display and subsequently struggles to sustain a 90 minute run time. This is evidenced during several extraneous sequences which deal the story little justice, from many drawn out and often silent encounters, to five whole minutes of 1943’s Tarzan Triumphs, the latter of which is so ridiculous in its inclusion that it beggars belief, though I’ve assured myself it must have some metaphorical meaning: Tarzan and co’ attempting to escape from their current captors just about mirrors Lena’s own turmoil...except for the monkeys. Still, sequences such as this fail to elaborate greatly on this real-life inspired tale, leaving it teetering awkwardly between fine art and sheer nonsense. Yet there’s hope for Wiklund’s little film in that the final act is lined with suspenseful elements; we never quite know what Lena and Helge’s relationship will amount to as it goes into stalker mode, and despite the director filming more than his quota of lengthy, static shots he presents a suitably unnerving atmosphere as the young girl finds herself trapped in a nightmare she’s inadvertently created for herself.
And said girl is neatly portrayed by our Christina, who does naïve and bewildered like no one else. While she doesn’t set the world alight here with her acting chops - although to be fair there’s very little by way of juicy dialogue to get to grips with - she does have an uncanny knack of making us buy into Lena’s promiscuous predicament, and of course it helps that she has the most bewitching features of any girl working in the industry at the time. Her ‘assets’ certainly don’t go to waste here and in turn that makes it just a little easier to digest certain other misgivings as far as the director is concerned. However, special mention must go to Heinz Hopf (who would later star alongside Christina in Thriller) who makes a show-stealing turn as a cold and collected manipulator of young girls’ hearts.
Synapse’s anamorphic 1.66:1 presentation is very impressive given the state some of these older Swedish films appear in. While there’s no shortage of wear, such as tramline scratches and other dust and dirt debris, it looks very pleasing, and on reflection probably works better because of its grit. Colours are finely balanced, appearing fully natural, while contrast is excellent. Detail isn’t too shabby either, with some nice grain and fine close ups. Assuming then that they acquired this from the original negatives it’s about as good as we can hope to expect.
The original Swedish mono track is also present, and although it registers quite low (turning up volume is obviously advised) it’s still perfectly decent, with no drop-outs and the like, presenting this then as originally intended. Optional English subtitles are also included; these are well timed with no noticeable grammatical errors.
Recorded in 1995 for the Swedish DVD release, “Over Exposed” (17.10) features interviews with director Gustav Wiklund and Christina Lindberg. This covers as much as you’d hope it to, in that Wiklund takes us through every step he took in getting the film made the way he wanted; how he came to cast Christina in the lead role and how he perceived its ultimate notoriety by the time it hit Cannes. Christina meanwhile talks very openly about her experience working on the film, though fans might be a tad disappointed that she’s never on screen for any lengthy duration. There are a few too many scenes from the feature chucked in to pad things out, but overall it’s a worthwhile watch.
A 2-minute still gallery follows on from this while we also have the original theatrical trailer and the U.S. theatrical trailer. Perhaps the best piece for curios is the insertion of two songs that Christina sang back in the day: “Everything Goes Quiet Again” and “You Are My Only Love”. I won’t lie, Christina doesn’t have the best singing voice and she’s joked about that in the past, but these have a certain sweetness about them nonetheless and make for a welcome inclusion as they round off the set.
Not a classic by any means on account of some maximum padding, but nonetheless a very fine effort from Gustav Wiklund. Exposed does itself proud by mixing in some suspense and ambiguous psychological undertones, which greatly overshadow its brief helpings of naked flesh.