Synapse // 1975 // 102 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Daryl Loomis (Retired) // August 5th, 2011
What's the matter? Does the little canary want to be set free?
The box for Wide Open hangs its hat on the presence of Christina Lindberg (Thriller: A Cruel Picture), the queen of 1970s Swedish sexploitation, whose gorgeous face populates every square inch of the packaging. Don't be fooled, though, this is a case where the distributor tries to trick cult fans into buying the DVD on her account, only to find out that she's in about four minutes of the film. She's in all the pictures, but nothing mentions the two actresses who actually have substantial roles. It's irritating, but I'm used to the old bait-and-switch. The package notwithstanding, Wide Open is about the quality I expected, which is to say, not very good.
Marianne (Solveig Andersson, Dagmar's Hot Pants, Inc.) and Paul (Kent-Arne Dahlgren) are roommates, sometimes lovers, and their relationship is acidic at best. Things blow up when Marianne's sister, Beryl (Gunilla Larsson, Venus 90), shows up and, after a hot movie party, Paul wakes up in bed with both of them. He takes a shine to Beryl, but she's trouble. She gets a modeling job for a mysterious stranger, who hires her to strip for a party later in the week, specifying that she must wear this mink coat he gives to her. When Paul discovers the coat is lined with heroin, he must save Beryl and bring down this dirty smuggler.
The film is exactly as convoluted as it sounds, full of ridiculous interludes that neither make any sense nor ever get mentioned again. Some of the problem might be in the predictably awful English dub track and some might just be that Wide Open is a terrible film. No, there's no confusion; it's just terrible. The core story makes sense for whatever difference that makes, but characters enter and leave the film indiscriminately. While there are about thirty minutes that make up the main plot, the film runs almost four times longer. This 80 minutes of filler contains most of the sex, of course, so most fans won't complain too much, but that doesn't excuse their senselessness. At the beginning, we get a series of scenes involving Paul's drunken father. We expect, then, that he'll actually have a role in the film, but after a couple of minutes of watching him sweat and leer, he disappears entirely, never to be mentioned again. An awful-looking follows, which sets up some of the relationships, but also forces the audience to watch these people watch a movie. I don't want to ruin all the dramatic surprises of this thrill ride, so suffice it to say that the movie is a giant, incoherent bore. At least Christina Lindberg is in a few scenes, looking great as always, but doing very little. The sex is more implied than explicit, but there's a lot of it. Be thankful for it, because that's the only positive thing I can say about Wide Open.
Impulse Pictures, through Synapse, delivers a decent DVD package for Wide Open, but it's nothing great. The print has some damage, but it's mostly scratches and dirt; the transfer is perfectly fine. The 2.0 mono mix isn't quite as solid, with a noticeable hiss through the film and the aforementioned terrible dub track. Extras include two interviews, one with Christina Lindberg and the other with director Gustav Wiklund, but neither are that great, and a photo gallery. Fans also receive a free reversible nude cover...spicy!
Wide Open isn't the worst on the sexploitation block, but that doesn't make it good. For Christina Lindberg fans only.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.66:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 102 Minutes
Release Year: 1975
MPAA Rating: Not Rated