It also became a envelope-pushing event in the history of sex in the cinema. A feisty, rather zaftig actress-activist named Lena Nyman played a radical activist named Lena Nyman who, in between interviewing her fellow Swedes about everything from gender inequities to the morality of vacationing in Franco's Spain, spent lots of raunchy time in bed (and elsewhere). The copious frontal nudity and a glimpse of oral-genital contact ensured an epic court battle in America, and I Am Curious Yellow became a must-see conversation piece.
Decades later, it all seems not only fresher than it did then but oddly tender, even sweet. Sjöman, 42 years old to Nyman's 22, cast himself as her lover (which he was) as well as her director, and the film is occasionally "interrupted" by its own filming. Sjöman/"Sjöman" has to watch Lena/"Lena" doing some very intimate things with costar Börje Ahlstedt. Börje is playing a car salesman, but also playing "himself" as an actor sometimes intriguing against his director with "Lena"--not "Lena the activist" but "Lena the actress," both of whom Lena the actress-for-real is playing. The Pirandellianism is witty, raw, and lingeringly ambiguous. And now DVD adds another layer if you happen to watch with the commentary track engaged and listen to the seventysomething Sjöman, still musing wryly on the radical fusion of film and life at whose creation he was present. --Richard T. Jameson