Eric Vonk (Rutger Hauer) is a young Dutch sculptor and ladies' man with a knack for picking up
for wild bouts of lovemaking. He eventually meets Olga Staples (Monique van de Ven) and their
mutual attraction is like two dogs in heat. Their first is consummated in her car, and
followed by a serious accident. Interfering
relatives can't keep them apart and soon the pair are living together in Eric's studio, making statues and
making love 'round the clock. Eric is abrasive, destructive, intense, and selfish. Their bond
seems made in heaven until Olga rebels and leaves him, stating the obvious fact that all he wants to do
is make love. He's borderline out-of-control under normal circumstances, so what happens next is completely
Called in turn a Dutch Love Story, a horrible mess of tastelessness, and great art,
Turkish Delight was made
by a filmmaker dedicated to the concept of shock. This is as earthy as honest filmmaking gets: Billy
interviews claimed that interaction between real lovers doesn't stop at bourgeois niceties (such as
Marlene Dietrich spitting toothpaste in her lover's face in A Foreign Affair) but here Paul Verhoeven
goes full out with an intimate relationship seemingly without borders. Most bodily functions get
involved; Verhoeven's philosophy seems to be that real commitment is messy, and he wastes no opportunity
to rub our noses in this fact.
This insistence on in-your-face, blunt depictions of all kinds of activity (some not so 'shocking',
just unexpected) does make Turkish Delight fascinating. It starts with full frontal male
nudity & masturbation and goes on from there - and the really 'shocking' thing is that with all the
'nasty' content, the film never seems exploitative or less credible than any other intimate
romance. Just more honest ... ? And certainly more messy.
Eric's lovemaking style has about as much finesse as the way he handles his bicycle - letting it smash into
anything handy, scratching up parked cars, etc. His 'girlfriends' have bruises to think about before
worrying about their trashed egos. You can tell it's love at first sight when he encounters the terminally
game Olga, driving her daddy' Rolls-Royce. Within a half hour, Eric's gotten himself into a painful,
There's Something About Mary situation with a certain body part and a zipper, and managed to
crash the car too. A slap to the face is more often than not answered with a smile and more lovemaking;
we aren't given much explanation for their breakup, except Olga's protest against Eric's one-track sex drive.
The plot is almost as thin as Love Story's. The hero is left at the fadeout
with a statue and a wig. Obvious similarities aside, it is true that most
of the abruptstory turns are meant to simply be accepted - the source novel is said to be an account
of a real relationship, and in a rollercoaster affair like this one, things happen without a literary
structure to make them all seem 'motivated.' Content here is provided by the physical relationship in front of
the camera. The daring of the performances is astonishing, and makes total mush of so-called 'edgy' American
movie sex, even twenty-five years later. Forget about Sharon Stone parting her legs, which is as rough as
Paul Verhoeven could get in America. The actors in this
film are truly daring. Monique van de Ven is particularly good about being so darn honest with her clothes
off that you never think this is some tart cozened into making a movie. Whether it's her open face or
slightly toothy smile, you care intensely about her. Rutger Hauer is good as always, but we never quite
warm up to him, even if we quietly admire his brand of bohemian anarchy.
Verhoeven's uninhibited glee for icky details apparently pays off here, for we buy the occasional clichéd
scene, such as when Paul proves his capacity for tenderness by healing an injured seabird (which he ran over
with a car, of course). Verhoeven also uses a partial flashback device, which comes off as as confusingly
off-putting for a few minutes. That, and the freaky, brash sex in the first reel probably cleared all the
prudes out of the theaters, to make room for the millions who made Turkish Delight the most popular
Dutch film of all time.
Anchor Bay is turning out some of the smoothest foreign DVDs around. This one has a handsome 16:9 transfer, a
strong soundtrack (nice jazz music) and those language-learning-friendly removeable subtitles. The text
on the jacket wrapper and in the bios in the menu are astute and informative: real comment on the films
and personae as opposed to the publicity pap to which most major studios are pretty much forced to adhere.
Paul Verhoeven's commentary track shows an intelligent man who is frank about his early career and
the details of this picture. He's not the most-loved director at the moment, but the excesses and ugly
miscalculations of something like Showgirls seem inevitable (not necessarily forgiveable) given his
all-consuming desire for challenging shock value.
Turkish Delight is indeed strong stuff, kind of a sexual gauntlet for the Meek Of Loin. PC types will be mortified -
not a hint of social consciousness here, just crazy and irresponsible behavior.