The opening credits of Anita: Swedish Nymphet (Anita - ur en tonårsflickas dagbok) tell us that this is the true story of a nymphomaniac. This might lead you to expect that you’re about to see a typical 1970s sex comedy. But this is a Swedish erotic film. These are the people who gave the world Ingmar Bergman. There are no laughs in this movie. It takes itself very seriously, and it’s somewhat self-consciously arty.
This might sound a trifle dull, but don’t despair. This film does star Christina Lindberg, and she can make absolutely anything worth watching. It might also be worth mentioning that she’s naked for a considerable proportion of the movie.
She plays a teenager named Anita whose life is being destroyed by her compulsive need for sex. To make things more difficult for her she can only have sex with any man once, after which she will have nothing further to do with him. Since she needs to have sex several times a day she faces a major problem. Sweden does not have a large population, and she’s rapidly running out of men.
She’s also earned herself a somewhat dubious reputation in her home town. No-one at her school wants to know her. Her parents constantly compare her unfavourably to her studious good girl sister. The town’s prostitutes regard her as unfair competition. These factors, along with the man shortage, have driven her to hanging out at the local railway station where she snares men from out of town and drags them off and has her way with them.
Things are getting a little desperate when she meets a rather quiet young male college student. Erik lives in a household full of musicians but he’s a psychology student as well as being a musician. He becomes very interested in her case, genuine full-blown nymphomaniacs being fairly rare, and decides to take her on as a psychology project. He’s also rather drawn to her which is not altogether surprising since apart from being a nymphomaniac Anita is a rather sweet girl. But knowing her history he is determined not to have sex with her. That’s rather a challenge because Anita finds it very difficult to spend more than a few minutes with a man without trying to get his trousers off.
Erik soon realises that Anita’s sex obsession has two main causes. The first cause is that she regards herself as worthless because her parents neglect her emotionally and favour her sister. The second cause is that despite spending most of her waking hours engaging in sexual acts she has never had an orgasm. Diagnosing the causes of her nymphomania was easy, but now he has to find a way to overcome these twin obstacles to her happiness.
The very earnest tone of the film, especially when combined with the lurid subject matter, the huge quantities of sex and nudity, and the half-baked pop psychology could easily invite ridicule. That it doesn’t collapse into utter silliness and pomposity is due entirely to star Christina Lindberg. Ms Lindberg may not be the world’s greatest actress but she’s competent and the role is well within her acting range. She also has undoubted charisma, and she has an intensity that works well here. And most importantly she’s able to make Anita extremely likeable, and she also manages to avoid any wallowing in victimhood. In addition to which Ms Lindberg is of course a remarkably beautiful woman.
The mixture of high moral seriousness with outrageous exploitation elements makes this a rather amusing movie. Nobody could possibly take it as seriously as it takes itself but Anita herself is sympathetic enough and engaging enough to make the seriousness bearable.
It’s included in the Region 2 three-movie set Swedish Erotica from a company called Revelation. It’s fullscreen and the picture quality is deplorable but it is a Christina Lindberg movie and if you’re a fan of hers you’ll want it anyway, and the set includes another very good movie of hers called Exposed which makes it a reasonable buy.