When lumpy, lonely 40-year-old farmer Olof places a newspaper ad for a housekeeper, the pitch is a barely disguised personal ad. Olof (Rolf Lassgård) lives in rural ’50s Sweden, where the sexual revolution has yet to commence and no one—except Olof’s creepy young friend Erik (Johan Widerberg, the son of Elvira Madigan director Bo Widerberg)—knows who Elvis is. What are the chances that a beautiful young woman will arrive from the city and cure all Olof’s problems, including his virginity? Because this is a Colin Nutley film, about 100 percent. You can even guess who the woman will be: Helena Bergstrom, the British-born Swedish director’s wife and the star of all the films he’s made since they wed. Bergstrom plays Ellen, who’s kind, efficient, and ready to fall in love with the decent, well-meaning, but not especially charismatic Olof. Erik keeps warning that Ellen is not to be trusted, but it’s actually Erik who’s trouble—as is altogether too obvious. The plot, derived from a story by English author H.E. Bates, turns on Olof’s inability to read; he hides his illiteracy from Ellen, and at a crucial moment she writes him a note she doesn’t realize he won’t be able to decode. There’s never any sense, however, that things will go seriously wrong. The landscape, the score (by Paddy Moloney and the Chieftains), and the leading lady are just too pretty to permit an unhappy ending. The film was nominated for a foreign-film Oscar, apparently just for being nice. It makes the easygoing House of Angels, Nutley’s last film to get U.S. distribution, look like Apocalypse Now. —Mark Jenkins