Sunday, September 05, 2004

Black Voltage aka I, a Woman 3 aka The Daughter (3 Slags Kærlighed)

* ¼ (out of four) (print shown was dubbed)
Seen 4 September 2004 at Coolidge Corner #1 (Midnight Ass-Kickings: Back To The Grindhouse. But not really)

I want to know how this movie came to be dubbed "Black Voltage", a name which promises some sort of action or sci-fi element as opposed to this bit of... Well, melodrama, I guess. It's not porn, I don't think, since despite the nudity and the sex-centricity, you never see any penetration. "Erotica" sounds smarter and more exciting than this actually is, though I'm sure screenwriter Peer Guldbrandsen and director Mac Ahlberg thought they were saying something important about race and sex. Unfortunately, no-one involved in the movie seems to be any good at their jobs.

Well, that's not fair. Inger Sundh manages to do a decent job of looking pretty throughout, though she's as awful as the rest of the cast when something a little more demanding is called for. It's not just the cast, though - the writing, direction, production design, photography, and editing are all atrocious.

The story, near as I can follow it, is that the protagonist of the previous two "I, A Woman" movies (though played by a different actress) now works as a nurse in a research hospital and has a 17-year-old daughter (Sundh), who arrives home from boarding school early and sees mother and her married boss going at it. In what is either an incredible coincidence or a response to a request, a young, black, American resident at the hospital meets her in a club, gets into a fight for daring to touch a nice white Danish girl, and winds up taking her home where his lesbian sister (who is a go-go dancer at this club) takes a liking to her.

At least, I think that's about the size of it, because it's quite possible that this is the worst-edited movie of all time. Early on, I figured that maybe the reels had been put together in the wrong order, or that since this was an old, second-hand print, there were just pieces missing. But the ineptitude was so pervasive, and such a constant factor throughout, that I figured, no, this is just a poorly put together movie. For example, that bit with Stephen (the young American) meeting Brithe (the girl) in the club and getting into a fight actually seems to happen twice. It's not a repeated reel, because the second time has a bigger fight, but the second time also seems like the first time the two meet. Maybe it's a flashback; I suppose that's a possibility. But if it is, why the heck do they come back to this place?

And it's not even that sexy. Birthe is a well-constructed girl, but she's so innocent and confused that the power imbalance between her and basically everyone she meets is off-putting. She seems to be pushed from hating sex to liking girls to loving Stephen without any effort. Meanwhile, everyone occasionally stops to say extremely sincere things about how free Denmark is, or how nice it would be for black people to not be persecuted, or how parents screw them up. The sincerity of the characters is not in question, but since it often feels like a dialogue break between nude scenes, it's more than kind of laughable.

And laugh we did. I've mentioned before that certain movies that play the midnight show at the Coolidge are much more fun with the crowd than they would be by oneself at home - the idea of sitting alone in my living room watching this movie makes me feel sort of ashamed, actually. But I want to stress that this does not make Black Voltage a good movie even under those circumstance, for it is a cruel, mocking laughter meant to reassure oneself and the people nearby that one is better than this piece of junk.

Also, it has nothing relating to electricity whatsoever; I wondered if a title card from another movie had been attached, or if, perhaps, in 1970 "voltage" was some sort of euphamism.

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