The 4th Man
Starz / Anchor Bay
Review by Earl Cressey | posted May 6, 2001
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Review:
The 4th Man

Movie:
The 4th Man, originally released in Holland in 1983 under the title "De Vierde Man," was directed by Paul Verhoeven, of Starship Troopers, Robocop, and Basic Instinct fame. The film stars Jeroen Krabbé (Gerard Reve), Renée Soutendijk (Christine Halslag), and Thom Hoffman (Herman). Released as part of Anchor Bay's Paul Verhoeven Collection, the line also includes Turkish Delight and Solider of Orange.

Gerard Reve is a well-known and controversial author who thinks of death constantly. He's invited to speak at a literary society, and accepts. There, he meets the treasurer Christine, a wealthy widow, and after the speech, the two go back to her place. The next morning as he's about to leave, Gerard sees a picture of a man in Christine's papers. He questions her about him, and learns his name is Herman and that he is one of her lovers. Obsessed with the image of Herman, Gerard decides to stay and asks Christine to invite Herman over to spend the week with them, in the hopes of getting Herman all to himself. But over the course of the next few days, Gerard finds himself surrounded by symbols of death, even in his dreams. When he uncovers the information that Christine has been married three times and that all three men died of mysterious circumstances, Gerard fears for his life and tries to escape before he becomes the fourth man.

The 4th Man is a stunning combination of eroticism, symbolism, and surreal imaginary. Verhoeven and cinematographer Jan de Bont have done a fantastic job of mixing in religious symbols throughout the film, giving it another layer of complexity. The main mystery of the film – is Christine really a killer or is Gerard just overly intoxicated and paranoid? – is quite suspenseful and interesting, thanks in no small part to the terrific acting all around. Though not rated, the film does contain male and female nudity and both hetero- and homo- sexual situations.

Picture:
The 4th Man is presented in 1.66:1 anamorphic widescreen. The transfer is incredibly sharp and clear, with vibrant colors, accurate flesh tones, and solid blacks. Defects, such as lines or marks, were absent, though on occasion some grain does appear, most noticeably in a few daytime scenes.

Sound:
The 4th Man is presented in Dolby Mono 2.0 in Dutch with yellow English subtitles. The dialogue is always crisp, clean, and understandable with no pops or hisses. The music does a great job of keeping up the suspense throughout the film, and sounds terrific.

Extras:
The main extra of the DVD is a commentary with Verhoeven. Verhoeven seems excited to talk about the film throughout the commentary and his comments about the film's meaning and how the film was made were very interesting. Other extras include talent bios for Verhoeven, Krabbé, and Soutendijk, the film's trailer, and Verhoeven's original storyboard art, which runs slightly over five minutes in length.

Summary:
Those who enjoy Verhoeven's other films or suspense films in general should give the 4th Man a look. Anchor Bay's DVD presents the 4th Man with terrific picture and sound quality, and has added a decent selection of extras. Recommended!



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