Pathological, triggered by the unbridled desire to take the story of jealousy towards the film noirs, the film shades of black crime, when Riitta decide to carve adulterous sister, imagining in their path. Again, Tulio used effectively ellipse: a meeting room floor of the Chamber of flashing clothes play almost frame by frame Riitta viettelysessiota own – except that it is now a narrow perspective to give a distorted picture of the situation. Similarly, recalling the horrors huteralla hanging: a child fell into the water past his own clumsiness, Riitta now use the tools to ensure that the structure to give up and his rival for its own sister ends up in the rapids.
Free-spirited Eeva (Linnanheimo, who also scripted) has been playing off against each other her two suitors, Judge Lauri Isokari (Majuri) and Kristian “Kris” (Ingvall), a doctor. In the end she chooses to marry Lauri, much to Kris’s chagrin—although he’s very civilized about it, remains a steadfast friend of both, etc. Over the years, however, Lauri starts to suspect that Eeva and Kris are more than friends—he even briefly worries that he might not be the father of his and Eeva’s son Kari (Petsola). After one blazing row, Eeva storms out to go to her mother’s, declaring she’ll return for Kari in the morning.
The next day Lauri—who’s on assignment as governor of the local prison—is told that a dangerous murderess has escaped from the train that was bringing her to the prison. Soon after, the murderess, Vera Puranen, is found—although amnesic from a head injury—and also the hideously mangled body of Eeva, run over by a train.
It’s soon made clear to us that, of course, it’s Vera who got run over and Eeva who’s the amnesiac, but no one in the movie realizes this and so Eeva is imprisoned in Vera’s place. Her habit of shrieking every time she sees the governor—whom she confusedly recognizes, but not as her husband—earns her a spell of hard labor in the peat bogs . . .
Meanwhile, Lauri, believing himself a widower, has become captivated by the artist Riitta (Karipää), and proposes to her: “What would you say if I asked you to move here and become a mother to two lonely men?” Kari likes her too, although he’s less happy about accepting her as a stepmother. But “Uncle” Kris talks him into the idea, and the new Isokari family settles down happily enough.
Riitta has been observing Prisoner 311 at her husband’s jail, and twists Lauri’s arm to let her paint the woman’s portrait. Prisoner 311 proves, predictably, to be Eeva/Vera. Brought to the Isokari home, she recognizes the lucky elephant that Kris once gave her, and then the family dog, who recognizes her right back, and Kari, who initially doesn’t. But then Kari puts two and two together, manages to engineer his mom’s escape from the prison (in a highly implausible plot, this is the most implausible bit of all), and installs her in the cellar of the family home. When Lauri finds her and discovers who she is, the stage is set for a hair-raising car chase, some miracle surgery by Doctor Kris, and some hamfisted attempts by the four adults to deal with an unusual domestic situation.
The movie sags awfully in the middle—especially when either Linnanheimo or director Tulio seems to have thought that the best way to convey Eeva’s amnesia was to show her not just overacting the bonkers bit but doing so v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y—and it’s also burdened with an oddly jaunty musical soundtrack: it’s hard for us to empathize fully with Eeva’s misery and degradation when the music sometimes directly offset against it seems to be inviting a pub singalong.
Despite these flaws, there’s much here of interest. I’ve seen the movie described as Hitchcockian, but for me it has far more of the feel of an Henri-Georges Clouzot outing. An example of a device that seems reminiscent of both directors comes when the amnesiac Eeva sees her son and then later her husband and can’t understand why their faces are familiar to her: to express this confusion and bewilderment, the camera offers us multiple images of those faces.
And there are some nice set pieces, too. One evening some while after Eeva’s supposed death, Lauri goes rowing on the lake opposite his house. A young woman swimming in the moonlit water grabs hold of a hawser trailing behind his dinghy and allows him to pull her along. As they exchange banter, they juggle the fancy that she’s a mermaid. So far as we viewers are concerned, the doubt remains as to whether the “mermaid” is really there or if she’s just a vision Lauri is having of Eeva—remembering a happier time, perhaps—or even if this is Eeva’s ghost. It’s only some while later, when Lauri, out hunting, finds Riitta sitting at a poolside having sprained her ankle, that it’s spelled out to us who the “mermaid” was.
Overall, then, this is a somewhat uneven piece—no masterpiece—but it’s certainly not a waste of a couple of hours. Tulio produced/directed other melodramas, and the extremely talented Linnanheimo starred in and wrote several of them. I’ll be keeping an eye out for others.
— John Grant (Noirish)
Subtitles:English, Finnish, Swedish (muxed)