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1990: Destroying Angel/Sleep Well My Love

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Jan. 1st, 1990 | 08:00 pm

According to IMDB, ‘Destroying Angel’, also known as ‘Sleep Well, My Love’, was filmed in 1987, in Yugoslavia, and had a video premiere in Finland in 1990.

This charmless endeavour must have been one of the low points in Michael’s career. Despite being described – by some – as a romantic comedy, there is little to laugh at. The story revolves around 16 year-old Siska Turot, child of a rich but broken home, who – apparently without intending to – inflames her father Reynold’s passions during one of her three-weekly visits to his villa.

When her mother, Maria, comes to collect her, she catches them in bed. She takes the opportunity to blackmail her ex-husband for increasingly bigger hikes in her allowance, while encouraging Siska to continue this illicit liaison with Reynold: effectively prostituting her own child.

While the three of them are on holiday at the same hotel, Maria demands yet another pay-rise, and Reynold decides that he’s had enough. He hires an assassin, Ennio Volpe (played by Michael Gothard) to take her out.

Despite having an Italian name, Volpe seems to be Russian. The meeting between Volpe and Reynold Turot to discuss terms over a glass of wine is a rare bright spot in an otherwise dismal film. Volpe, who fancies himself as a wine connoisseur, advises Reynold to stick to Communist wines, because capitalists lace their vintages with anti-freeze.

Meanwhile, Maria is trying to persuade her new lover, struggling novelist Tom Berto, to kill Reynold for her. Siska joins her voice to her mother’s, though she fails in her attempt to seduce the man she claims to want as her ‘new step-father.’

As it turns out, Siska is the ‘destroying angel’ after whom the film is titled. When she finds out about her father’s plan to kill her mother, she sees an opportunity to rid herself of both troublesome parents, tricking her father into becoming his own hitman’s second target, in place of the man he was also paying Volpe to shoot – Maria’s lover, Tom.

Tom then mistakes Volpe for Reynold, and makes a feeble attempt to kill him. Despite Siska’s pleas, Volpe then shoots Tom as well, for good measure, and departs, promising not to charge Siska for that bullet.

Not a happy story at first glance, but if the Director had handled it differently, it could have made a passable black comedy, perhaps along the lines of ‘Ruthless People.’

But for that, it would have needed a faster pace, and characters with whom one might empathise. As it is, the main players are one-dimensional: a weak and pathetic abuser, a libidinous, money-grabbing harpy, and her failed novelist boyfriend, who is a bit of a sap. Even Siska isn’t very sympathetically played.

The director Arne Mattsson did include a joke of his own; known internationally for his film "One Summer of Happiness" (1951), which aroused controversy because of its permissiveness, he gave this same title to the novel Tom Berto has just had rejected by his publisher, on account of its lack of sexual content.

Sadly, Mattsson also took the ‘permissive’ route with this film, which contains a lot of footage that was presumably intended to be erotic, but is actually just unpleasant; we are treated to a number of scenes documenting Reynold’s ongoing sexual abuse of his daughter Siska, as well as the unedifying sight of Siska’s appalling mother Maria seducing the bumbling Tom Berto, in the hope of persuading him to commit murder.

Even Volpe’s interaction with Siska is sexualised; Volpe puts the barrel of his gun in Siska’s mouth before agreeing to let her assist him by plunging the hotel into darkness, so he can kill her mother.

This may well be the worst film Michael ever appeared in, though – as ever – he does a professional job. Former girlfriend N.B. has said that he never watched the productions in which he appeared; in this case, that was probably a wise choice.

Michael was once again wearing octagonal-framed glasses, as first seen in "For Your Eyes Only."

Watch extracts from ‘Destroying Angel’ on Youtube, including Michael’s scenes.

IMDB entry

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