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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Rikollinen Nainen" (1952) also goes by the name "A Woman of Crime".
John Grant provides a good review of it in his noirish extension and
says he might well have included it in his book as a borderline noir.
It does have some noir elements; however the film doesn't heighten them
sufficiently to qualify as full-fledged noir. It is indeed borderline
noir. The IMDb rating of 6.4 is about right too, in my view.
Regardless of classification or rating, this is an interesting, engaging and attractive film. It is clear that the director, Teuvo Tulio, honestly followed his own creative bent to make the film he wanted to make. He didn't import techniques for the sake of imitation. He used those images and story-telling means that he thought told the story using the visual arts. In this he succeeded. The result stands on its own. If anything, its tone and atmosphere, while lighter than Bergman, may show the influence of his early films. The story is definitely original, not derivative of Bergman, and Linnenheimo wrote it. Time and again, Tulio brings the scenes to life in interesting ways, while on the subtle side. He is not a director who exaggerates too much or hits you over the head.
The story opens with a speedboat race in which Regina Linnenheimo wins against her two suitors and the rest of the field. They are a judge (Tauno Majori) and a doctor (Kurt Ingvall). A free-spirited woman who smiles and laughs easily, she has yet to make a choice between them. Water is shown repeatedly in the first part of the movie against idyllic natural vistas. Besides showing Finland's beauty, there is a feeling of serenity and order, but yet the water ripples suggest an undercurrent of potential instability. This has already happened during the race when both suitors were thrown into the water while making a sharp turn. Later in the movie, water disappears and more ominous images occur such as Linnenheimo slogging through a peat bog pushing a wheelbarrow.
Majori becomes the husband. The disappointed Ingvall takes it well and remains friends, the family doctor and in love with Linnenheimo. Time passes quickly. There is a son in the new family, but trouble is brewing. Innocent incidents bring out a jealous streak in the judge, who is now filling a post as a prison warden in a women's prison. He and his wife argue and she takes off to her mother's. The next day, Majori is called to the police station where he identifies her body, mutilated by a train. Subsequently he remarries Eija Karipaa. What he does not know is that his wife, who has amnesia, has become a prisoner in his prison through a chain of events.
She is barely recognizable, her face displaying near madness and lack of comprehension of her situation. It is amazing how well Linnenheimo without much in the way of makeup can show us a virtual Jekyll/Hyde transformation.
Karipaa, an artist, fastens upon Linnenheimo as an interesting subject to paint, leading eventually to the discovery of who she is and the dilemma of Majori's two marriages. Ingvall as a doctor plays an important role in several respects, discovering that her amnesia owes to a blow to the head and bone fragments. He directs her rehabilitation. At the very end, there is the barest hint of a resolution, that she may divorce Majori and marry Ingvall.
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