21 July 2015 | Bunuel1976
THE GIRL (Arne Mattsson, 1986) **
Given that director Mattsson made his name with the ground-breaking Swedish erotic drama ONE SUMMER OF HAPPINESS (1951), it was perhaps inevitable that during the twilight of his career he would return to this theme. The film (distributed in the U.S. by Roger Corman's New World Pictures!) is basically a variation on "Lolita" – with successful married lawyer Franco Nero falling under the spell of a teenage schoolgirl and all but ruing his life for her. What is more, here, the protagonist's wife is herself involved in an affair with a much-younger man; though Mattsson understandably has the young Clare Powney disrobe quite often, he also gives middle-aged Bernice Stegers her share of nude scenes!
The temptress of the title comes from an eminent family, so her sudden elopement with Nero leads to an ambitious journalist tracking the couple down to an island retreat – complete with mute servant girl (I thought Jess Franco cornered that particular market?!) – and eventually attempt blackmail; the girl, obviously wiser than her years, seduces and knifes him (twice at one go!) in order to deal with his threat – a befuddled Nero can only contrive to dispose of the body and his personal effects. Ultimately, both elder parties decide to get together again, which the youngsters do not take lightly; Stegers' boyfriend begins hounding her, so she opts to come clean – but somehow Nero never does and pays the price with his life
only, since the death occurs in an apartment separately shared by the clandestine couple and to which the young man also has the key, it is he who is accused of the crime by Christopher Lee (once again playing at upholding law and order)! The latter appears during the very last stages of the film but his presence add some much needed gravitas at that point.
To be fair, the film is not devoid of interest throughout – but the tedious plot and sluggish pacing only exacerbates the redundancy of the whole enterprise, while the palpable decline in the quality of movies being offered at this point in time to international stars the likes of Nero and Lee – who had previously appeared together in THE SALAMANDER (1981) – renders it that much sadder to watch! Incidentally, I recall the VHS poster of THE GIRL from one of the magazines dedicated to that home video format I used to pore on in my childhood days