Protesting, humping, exploring, "isn’t that what the mods do?" Lena Nyman sort of playing herself in Vilgot Sjöman’s Lena on the Road, the movie of her life, kind of, from a director who keeps wandering in from behind the camera. (Dowager Sweden bumps into the meta-duo and is duly affronted: "You and your films...!") The Stockholm coed is a drama student playing radical, worker’s cap and tinted glasses and all, perpetually sticking a microphone in somebody's face. A street cook on the class system: "Undress them and they’re all alike." Airport tourists on the Franco regime: "Yeah, but Spain was cheaper than Israel." Rallies, floating intertitles, slogans and songs, a filmed production diary, just about. Fiction and politics, says the future Prime Minister, plus visual impressions, "that’s a good mixture." Eros enters the equation as the heroine takes up with a married lout (Börje Ahlstedt), and soon the two are fumbling with pants around their ankles, smooching each other’s genitals, and generally providing fuel for years of U.S. obscenity hearings. In this amorphous joke on Scandinavian neutrality, Sjöman is a ribald cousin of Godard and Makavejev, setting up a socialist history lesson only to rush off and join his lead actress in a bit of yoga calisthenics. Nyman and Ahlstedt in the woods are a Summer with Monika parody, a mock-idyllic interlude that finishes with the girl apologizing to footage of Martin Luther King Jr. before succumbing to the dreaded capitalist decadence of cream pastry. Jeux de cinéma, a bemused society at a crossroads, a medium in frisky disarray. "Freedom’s not easy, my dear," croons the balladeer to the couple stripped bare and also to the provocateur with one eye on the Moviola and another on the censors. With Peter Lindgren, Chris Wahlström, Magnus Nilsson, and Yevgeny Yevtushenko. In black and white.
--- Fernando F. Croce