Reviews & Commentary

Maid in Sweden (1971)

Also known as
The Milkmaid
Ronnie Friedland, George T. Norris
Dan Wolman
Christina Lindberg, Monica Ekman, Krister Ekman, Leif Naeslund, Wivian Öiangen
Hans Welin

One of Maid in Sweden‘s writers uses the pseudonym “Mike Hunt”. That should tell you everything you need to know about the quality of this film, but since I’m supposed to be offering reviews and commentary (it says so right in the title)...

Naïve 16-year-old Inga (Christina Lindberg) goes to stay with her sister, Greta (Monica Ekman), and Greta’s loutish stoner boyfriend, Carsten (Krister Ekman), in Stockholm. Carsten mocks Inga’s innocent country ways, and she’s set up on a date with failed artist (and lout) Björn (Leif Naeslund) who basically rapes her into falling in love with him, continuing a trend from the last Lindberg movie I reviewed. Then Carsten does the same thing. And there’s your plot.

Both Carsten and Björn are annoying enough characters that they’re practically deconstructions of the macho stereotype; Carsten’s constant mocking of Inga’s supposed childishness exposes his own immaturity. What makes it fail as even accidental deconstruction, is how the film treats its female characters: Greta, the supposedly independent older sister, defers continually to Carsten, who is only ever half-way nice to Greta when she agrees with him, so rather than kicking him out, she lets him win every argument. Inga is a self-destructive cipher with very little motivation of her own. Notice how passive she is in her own fantasies — that’s how she relates to the world (and to men, specifically); in her own daydreams, she makes herself the object that the film treats her as. It’s all quite depressing, really. Journey to Japan at least attempted to justify its “rape is love” storyline, but Maid in Sweden doesn’t even seem to realise there’s a problem, making it feel creepily misogynist.

I found it interesting that Inga’s behaviour was more realistic in her “fantasies”, where she reacts with terror to being raped. Maybe the fantasies are actually flashbacks (or fictionalised memories of abuse), and everything after that is a fantasy where Inga tries to get some measure of control over her abuse by turning rape into a positive experience. Which naturally fails — her fantasy falls apart when her sister catches her having sex with Carsten, and Inga has to return home (the site of her abuse?). Or maybe Inga is having trouble coming to terms with her sexuality; her strict religious upbringing is making her sublimate her homosexuality through self-destructive overcompensation, through behaviour she perceives, via her sister and Carsten’s relationship, as normal. But her unease in this perceived heteronormative world makes her unconsciously sabotage her attempts at fitting into it by letting Greta catch her having sex with Carsten.

Of course, if you stay long enough in sensory deprivation, you begin to hallucinate, and a similar mechanic is probably at work here; the reason I’m reading to much into a subtext that isn’t there is that the film is mind-numbingly boring. It’s basically just a few Lindberg nude scenes strung together by seemingly-interminable stretches of some of the most tedious dialogue I’ve ever had the displeasure of hearing. And all spoken in broken English, which was probably meant to keep the film attractive to English-language markets, but the actors are bad enough without the added obstacle of struggling with a foreign language. I kept hoping Lindberg would put on her eye patch and introduce those dimwits to the business end of her shotgun. No one in Maid in Sweden says anything but the most mundane, dull things, and, since there’s so very little plot to move along, it’s all pointlessly mundane and dull.

If you’re at all familiar with contemporary sexploitation schlock, you’ll have seen some Pop Cinema’s (formerly ei Independent Cinema) films (they’re main star was/is “Misty Mundae” (Erin Brown)). The main reason Pop Cinema’s movies are fun, and Maid in Sweden isn’t, (besides not being so blatantly misogynist) is that they have the good sense of being brief, focusing on the sexploitation, and keeping the dialogue to a minimum — giving the actors less opportunity to expose how bad they are.

Maid in Sweden was Christina Lindberg’s début; she was 18 when she shot the film, but looks younger — another reason it’s pretty disturbing to watch. She was never a good actor, and Maid in Sweden is just further proof. There is, though, an interesting arc to her film career in Sweden: from this depressing, dull exploitation dreck, through the flawed but interesting exploitation of Exposed, to the exploitation milestone, Thriller – en grym film. My advice: skip this part of the arc.

Written by Kalle on Friday April 9, 2010
Permalink - Category: Film - Tags: 1970s, christina-lindberg

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