Directed By: Jerzy Skolimowski
Written By: Jerzy Skolimowski & J. Gruza & B. Sulik
Cinematography By: Charly Steinberger
Editor: Barrie Vince
Cast: Jane Asher, John Moulder-Brown, Karl Michael Vogler, Christopher Sanford, Diana Dors, Louise Martini
15-year-old Mike takes a job at the local swimming baths, where he becomes obsessed with an attractive young woman, Susan, who works there as an attendant. Although Susan has a fiancé, Mike does his best to sabotage the relationship, to the extent of stalking both her and her fiancé. Mike becomes increasingly desperate to have Susan for himself, with tragic results.
This is a different color g of age tale that follows all the hallmarks of introducing the world through a kind of crush romance. But here it ends much more tragically and more than emotionally.
It involves the theory of being Careful what you wish for as you might just get it. As in the bed, the young man gets what he wants his crush finally does go from him and in the way that he wants even if he must first pay a price but it doesn’t go as he imagines and ends up failing himself but also she doesn’t react in the caring manner in which she has treated him before. As of now he has more or less become one of her victims or how she pretty much treats most of the men in her life by what they can actually give her. Before he was fun as she knew the power she had over him. Now that he has gotten what their want he feels more of ownership as he has An investment in her and now he isn’t fascinating or special to her anymore. Not to mention not valuable as a lover either.
So he strikes out accidentally and causes her death. Which he then decides to die with her by drowning himself in her body. As he caused it and to show he will always love her and there will never be another for him.
This film has the character as one of the few actual teenagers throughout whereas most of the time he is surrounded by adults. Who more or less immerse him in their own worlds.
There is even the ex-girlfriend his own age who rebuffed him when he wanted to go farther intimately who finally offers herself to him now, but he has already fallen for another and it’s too late
Watching this film you can see why he is so obsessed the woman of his dreams is beautiful and elegant to him yet down to earth. His teacher and playmate in many ways. She seems open to him and really to most males depending on what she can get from them. A seductress who seems open then cold. Who none the less encourages him. As throughout the film in the beginning he is more juvenile and silly as he slowly becomes obsessed. Though as the film goes on and his intensity for her increases it becomes scarier yet while he still is immature it does age him and make his actions seem more adult.
Jane Asher is so beautiful here absolute perfection as a crush and femme fatale who unfortunately becomes a victim.
There are obvious premonitions of the ending. With the constant use of red and just like any encounter, the film seems to be building up until it’s final climax which comes as partly shocking and just as their encounter short and seemingly underwhelming at first until the aftermath of it where it goes for more depth in the absence of feelings. Just as her constant insults that seem to just fuel him more and her destruction of his bike the only other thing we see him enjoy during the film. It seems with her destruction of it to hurt his chances of following her only intensifies his focuses.
Set in a more adult and dirty time. The film takes place all in a week mainly at the young man’s first job at a bathhouse during the days of swinging London.
It seems at first she is testing the limits by openly insulting his mother in front of him. To test for a reaction and when he gets upset but quickly seems to forgive her. She knows she has him.
We see her fiancé who is rather wimpish but can provide her with all the tickets and values she seeks. When it comes to the gym teacher he is more physical and can give her what she wants in that way. Not to mention is older and also will take care of her and gives her a bit of adventure by participating in this affair.
The movie theater scene is an interesting power play of her being victim forced to see this film she has no interest in. Then taking control as other members of the audience are attracted to her and then her allowing him to touch her and feel her up while watching a sexual film that is about frigidity and ways of heating yourself up sexually. Then complaining about his actions and having the fiancé get the cops to arrest him but making out with him beforehand and wanting to press charges but when the cops look for her to make a statement she disappears and seems to be having for. So that it becomes a strange comedic yet erotic scene.
This is a film about voyeurism for us watching the characters and one Character watching the other. This is truly a film of the birth of a stalker. Where we see what inspires and builds him up. The dangers of idealization and projection of fantasies. That while it comes off as innocent and maybe justified. At first, becomes dangerous and sickening. Especially when compared with current issues and how times have evolved. Also shows how times have changed. As the film is open to show the tragedy of the situation though can be seen as misogynistic easily with her constantly playing games with the teenager.
Though this film more or less could also try to show at the time the only power females might have had were more sexual ones.
The film also shows Mike being submissive at the beginning as in an early scene where a female customer uses and abuses him for her own pleasure. Practically wrestling him for her own pleasure. As she is older and physically bigger than him and he stays passive until the end where he becomes aggressive in all the wrong ways.
The film takes place in a location that is supposed to be about cleanliness. That we can see is showcasing it’s cracks and rot. As it ages showing it’s slow decay and it being corrupted. all the while the place is trying to be maintained and repurposed to be attractive with it being painted red, the color of passion and love. Here more represents seduction and corruption with a bit of madness.
This truly is more of a character study than most films as not much happens In The way of story or plot but much happens through the interaction and intentions of the characters what they are driven by their motivations and emotions. Which are not so much on display but more or less acted upon.
This is one of those films that eats at you more after it is finished. As you keep finding yourself thinking about it. What the meanings are and your interpretations of what you just watched. In it’s own way it’s powerful yet not necessary. One of those undiscovered gems you want to share though know it might not be for everyone. As it is a small story that is powerful if you stay until the end. Though you have to be observant and patient.
Sexuality using the constant fact of being objectified and using that for what it’s worth.
She losing her diamond in the snow after fighting with him and then bringing all the snow in to melt and hopefully find the diamond. Could represent her coldness to him melting and him finding it as both romantic and him paying her price to be able to be with her. After her little breakdown.
Strangely the film keeps the mood light so that in the surprise moments when it does become dark it’s jarring and surprising you