By: Henry J. Fromage (Four Beers) –
Paul Verhoeven. Just uttering the name evokes images of boundary-pushing, violent, sexy, clever studio fare just about the opposite of anything that would get a wide release today. RoboCop, Basic Instinct, Total Recall, shit, even Starship Troopers. Would you believe those films are actually toned down Verhoeven?
Turkish Delight tells the star-crossed love story of sculptor Eric Vonk (Rutger Hauer) and jailbait Olga Stapels (Monique van de Ven) as they fight, fuck, fight and fuck at the same time, fuck over each other and everyone else, and generally act like dicks.
Or just whip them out.
In the first three minutes, we witness four bloody murders, a penis, porno pics, and masturbation while saying “Shit, I’ll lick the shit from your ass!”, followed by a deluge of sexual encounters that make Nymphomaniac look like it’s holding back. It’s Verhoeven even more provocative than we’ve ever seen him, and it’s glorious. Then 20 minutes or so in we find out the truth of the matter… this is a love story?
It’s important to note that the Ryan O’Neal/Ali McGraw romantic drama Love Story became a bona fide phenomenon in 1970, and it’s just about impossible to view this film as anything but a pointed response to it. The clichéd class struggle dynamic isn’t there, but the same story beats up to the heavily foreshadowed conclusion sure are (although to be fair, lots of weepy love stories move along in this fashion). I do have to admit that Hauer and van de Ven do have an excellent fucked up brand of chemistry, and really sell the central romance.
And she’s pretty damn hot… always a plus.
Verhoeven’s directing job is raw, but shows clearly the filmmaker that he’d become. Beneath all of the provocation is a strong foundation of formal skills, producing some just about iconic shots and scenes, with several artsy thematic touches, like the recurring maggots.
This is clearly an attempt at an unromantic, realistic Love Story, but it’s every bit as plagued by sentimentalism and cliché as that film in the end. Hauer literally lets a seagull with a broken wing that he nurtured back to health go right when he decides to free Olga from his attentions. Come on.
The big difference between this and any romance film like Love Story is the never-ending deluge of provocation that Verhoeven adds to it. There’s graphic sex, Hauer picking up a turd, rape, the verbatim quote “only beautiful things come out of your poopy hole”… so it’s basically a John Waters movie.
While the fact that these people are all horrible is kind of the point, it doesn’t make them any more fun to spend time with. And that last shot made me laugh out loud, but I’m rather afraid that it was supposed to be profound.
Turkish Delight is an interesting look at a young Paul Verhoeven… but in the end it’s a rather juvenile response to Love Story and all Love Stories like it.
Take a Drink: for every sexual encounter
Take a Drink: whenever Hauer acts like quite the nonconformist
Take a Drink: whenever something super ‘70s occurs
Take a Drink: for maggots
Take a Drink: whenever you see Hobo With a Shotgun’s…. uh, “shotgun”
Do a Double Shot: when one of the worst things ever happens to it
Do a Shot: when Olga Ahnolds out
Credit: Filmdrunk.com (Whaaaaaat? Ah, no, they’re not as cool as MovieBoozer).