There is no faceless woman in this movie; the facelessness is a metaphor, lol. Even if the heroine had been sans a working visage, I don’t think I’d have minded and would still have loved the film. It’s a black-and-white melodrama about a doomed love affair, penned by the Swedish movie maestro, Ingmar Bergman, and it made me forget temporarily how uncomfortable this bloody ‘Big Heat’ is making me. And I know I can’t complain, because other people, across the UK and Europe, have it so much worse. Who knows where it’ll all end, I can’t help asking myself…

Anyway, Martin Grande is our male lead character. He’s a handsome young man, still a student, who’s already married, with a wife called Frida and an adorable little blond-haired boy called Pil.

Martin’s character is weak, soft. He’s been spoiled and over-indulged by his parents and his wife Frida, who does everything for him but who sees more of Martin’s best friend Ragnar than she does of her husband.

One day, Martin and his son Pil are in a florist’s shop buying ‘sorry I was a big jerk’ flowers when Martin sees a woman. Her name is Rut Kohler. She is beautiful, with wavy blonde hair, huge eyes and a wide sensual mouth which I’d say would have been one of the actress, Gunn Wallgren’s, biggest trademarks back in the day. The two are quickly smitten with each other.

Rut cleverly contrives to see Martin again very soon, without his son. Before you can say cheatin’, lyin’ sumbitch, Martin has moved in with Rut, much to the devastation of his own little family.

Frida and Pil have no choice but to struggle along alone without Martin, hoping against hope that the errant husband and father will see sense and come home after the affair has blown itself out. But will it? That’s the thing, you see.

Rut and Martin are the kind of people who are bad for each other, who should never have got together in the first place. They have big dreams they’ll probably never achieve because they’re all talk. Big talk, granted, but still just talk. They fight, they squabble, they argue. They have sex like it’s the Apocalypse and Death himself is galloping towards them on a black charger with his scythe thingy at the ready.

Martin deserts from his National Service stint in order to see her all the time. He risks actual jail time to be with her. She sleeps with other men and taunts him about it. He loses his temper, she stabs him in the hand with a fork. That’s the kind of couple they are. They fight, they make up, they make love, then they fight again.

It’s the kind of relationship that gets described as passionate and tempestuous, which are often just synonyms for sick-making, poisonous, toxic. It’s like Mercedes saleswoman Gloria Trillo’s relationship with mob boss Tony Soprano in HBO drama series, THE SOPRANOS. Best television series ever, bar none, by the way. Not even BREAKING BAD. So there.

Both Gloria and Rut are deeply damaged women. Gloria is a self-confessed ‘serial killer’ who has ‘murdered’ seven relationships… Rut has been sexually abused in her youth by her mother’s odious boyfriend, the rich businessman Victor.

Somehow, they crave the drama, the abuse. It might be the only kind of ‘love’ they’ve ever known. They can be manipulative, intensely jealous and even dangerous. Certainly dangerous to a man’s peace of mind and his marriage, anyway, if not occasionally dangerous in an actual physical sense.

They’re both the kind of girl who’d say to a guy, hit me, go on, hit me, I know you want to, and then cry, you hit me! when he gives in to their pleas, their demands and entreaties. Head-wrecking, beautiful, sexually alluring, frustrating, even annoying, and seriously addictive.

Oh, and ultimately tragic. Someone who lives like that isn’t likely to die peacefully in her bed after a long, fruitful life. The future doesn’t look too bright for Rut and Martin, no matter how many chimney sweeps’ concerts they gleefully attend…

I found this little Swedish language gem on Netflix, of all places, poor beleaguered Netflix that was plenty good enough for us when we had nothing else but which we’re now deserting in our droves because we’ve got ‘shiny new penny’ syndrome and there are too many other glittering distractions out there trying to grab our attention. Well, don’t worry, Netflix, I won’t desert you. I love you to the ends of the earth and back. You’re my life. I’m nothing without you. Go on, Netflix, hit me, I know you want to…  

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:
Her new book, THIRTEEN STOPS EARLIER, is out now from Poolbeg Books:
Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:
The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books: