Christina Lindberg fans have been waiting what seems like an eternity for Exposed. It was always mentioned alongside They Call Her One Eye as one of her top films, yet while Maid in Sweden and Anita were seeing release’s, Exposed was still puzzlingly absent from the scene. Thanks to Synapse, Exposed has finally seen the light of day, and having seen it at last, I can’t help but wonder what exactly all the fuss was about.
Lena is a young girl growing up in Sweden with an overactive imagination. She’s more than happy spending time with her boyfriend Jan, yet due to her desire to explore her wild side, she sparks up a relationship with a man named Helge, who hosts crazy parties full of drugs and sex. Wanting to please Helge and appear willing to do anything, she agrees to let him take a series of nude photographs of her.
Lena however comes to her senses, and attempts to cut all ties to Helge. Helge isn’t one to let the one he wants go so easily, and slips one of the pictures under her front door. Lena, being a teenager, still lives with her parents, and luckily they’re on vacation when Helge pulls his stunt. Realizing that the pictures could turn her life upside-down, she turns to Jan and attempts to figure out a way to persuade Helge into turning over the pictures and negatives. Of course Helge is only interested in certain things when it comes to Lena, and she has to decide how deep she’s willing to go to cover up her exploits.
The major problem with Exposed is that it just cannot live up to the depravity the trailer we’ve all seen for year’s hints at; it’s a prime example of a trailer being infinitely more entertaining than the actual full-length picture. The film is painfully dull, and amounts to 90 minutes of vapid nothingness. Sure, there’s a story in there somewhere that has some potential, but it gets completely bogged down in nonsense. For starters, I can’t for the life of me figure out what the opening third of the film has to do with anything. We see Lena hitching a ride with a hippy couple, who she trusts so much that she invites down to her boyfriend Jan’s families lake house. For the next 20 minutes, we get to watch them frolicking around nude, 70’s bush and all, with absolutely nothing that drives the actual plot of the film forward. This is really the story of the entire flick: you’ll get a piece of the overall plot here and there, and just when you start to believe we’re getting to the meat of the piece, things veer off into another lackadaisical direction and we’re left to languish around waiting for things to get back on track again.
I’m not even positive what the intention of the film is to be honest. It comes off as a real hodge-podge of ideas, and I’m not sure what the intended impact of the film was supposed to be as none of them are fully explored or particularly effective. Where the film works best are the small instances when it channels the thriller genre, such as when Helge stalks Lena, or when Lena goes off into her little fantasy world. It’s these instances where the film piqued my interest and made me believe that things would ultimately go somewhere worthwhile. Alas, it never really does.
You could take the film as a coming-of-age tale, a portrait of a young girl that likes to think her life is a lot more exciting than it actually is, but it doesn’t really work in this respect either. The narrative never delves deep enough into Lena’s character for the viewer to ever really care much about her, and you’ll be left to just follow behind her in her less-than-thrilling exploits. Exposed even fails as a sexy softcore film (which from all accounts is apparently its main draw), as by today’s standards everything on display is amazingly subdued. At least the film wasn’t released under its alternate title of “The Depraved”, because it sadly is anything but.
As I mentioned before, the instances in which Lena embellishes on the truth and acts out fantasies in her head are by far the film’s strongest aspect. These scenes are integrated into the story in a way where you won’t actually know the things you’re seeing are products of Lena’s imagination until something outrageous happens, and it’s these moments where I was most impressed with the film. It’s sad then that something superior couldn’t have been built around these quality ideas. On the flipside of things, by the end of the film, you’ll be questioning nearly everything you just saw; did Helge really exist in Lena’s life in the fashion in which she explains? The party scenes don’t take place in real-time, they’re flashback accounts from Lena, so all of these things could very well be just more manifestations of her overactive imagination. Hell, you’ll be questioning if Helge is really stalking her at all when all is said and done. This element isn’t pulled off nearly as well though as the earlier fantasy scenes where you’re clued in about Lena’s wild inventions, and you’ll be left feeling like you’ve been deceived for the past hour and a half.
In a bonus feature on the DVD featuring an interview with director Gustav Wiklund, he recounts a chance meeting with Roger Corman in a bar following a less-than successful showing of the film at Cannes, in which both he and Corman left the theatre after the first 5 minutes of the film. Corman wanted to buy the film, and his only comment on it was: “The film has certain qualities”. That’s exactly how I feel about Exposed. I didn’t like it at all, but then again I didn’t really hate anything about it either; I don't feel strongly one way or the other. There’s something there that saves it from being a complete disaster, yet the film is void of pretty much everything I've come to expect from a good movie. If the presence Christina Lindberg is enough to pull you through a 90 minute film, then you may find something to enjoy here. All others may want to keep from being exposed.
While I didn’t care for the film itself, Synapse’s DVD release is fantastic. Presented in 1.66:1 anamorphic widescreen, Exposed looks just about as good as it ever will. There are some nicks and scratches on the print throughout, but it’s never distracting, and the work put into making the film look as good as possible is evident. The original Swedish audio is presented in Dolby Digital Mono, and is clear and free of any pops or hiss. The removable English subtitles are error-free.
The main bonus feature is a piece entitled “Over-Exposed”, which runs a bit under 20 minutes and includes interviews with director Gustav Wiklund and Christina Lindberg. A lot of very interesting information is present, including the aforementioned encounter with Roger Corman, and how Wiklund’s producers sold the film to someone else, and thus his career as a filmmaker never reached the heights in which it may have otherwise. Also included on the disc are two audio tracks from Christina Lindberg’s EP “Christina Sings!” (it seems like every exploitation starlet wants to be a singer), a 2-minute stills gallery, and two trailers for the film, including the infamous US grindhouse version. If you’re a Christina Lindberg fan, you’ll find a lot to enjoy.
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