The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
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All Critics (5)
| Fresh (4)
| Rotten (1)
| DVD (1)
...a wisp of a movie that suffers from an almost total dearth of memorable elements...
Seeing is believing.
A reminder that Verhoeven actually made good movies back in Holland
Powerful, but lacks a clear sense of meaning.
The film is a bit irregular but Verhoeven makes up for that with a lot of conviction, energy and pathos (helped by the dynamic editing), creating an adorable couple of characters who grow on us as we witness their oddball relationship develop and break.
Deep below its raw surface, of the hedonistic wanderings of our flawed couple, lies a poignant study of the frailty of humanity, how tender and finite life is. The constant shift of tones (perverse, nauseating or shocking things can easily turn warm and affectionate) are the testament of a very capable filmmaker on charge, Verhoeven succeeds by working his camera like a magnifying glass for his character's emotions, and the tougher and uglier, the better, his philosophy of love and life might be that anything that ends, always ends up unwell. A lively, overtly sexual and satirical tragedy.
The cult following of "Turkish Delight" is somewhat puzzling -- beyond the intrigue of seeing Rutger Hauer and Paul Verhoeven at the start of their careers, it's not an especially worthwhile film.
The romance-meets-disease plot is practically formula, if you recall pop trends of early-'70s cinema. It's just complicated with a dizzying number of quirky, vulgar details. Hauer stars as Erik Vonk, a handsome sculptor who's apparently an irresistible lover. He enters the film as a depraved, callous womanizer who seduces his prey and brutally discards them like used condoms. He even fantasizes about committing murder.
Then the story flashes back two years, and we discover why he's so twisted. In happier days, he hitched a ride with a redhead named Olga (Monique Van De Ven, in her acting debut) and instantly found a kindred spirit. They became a wild-child couple, full of rash mood swings and abrasive, non-conformist behavior. Olga's family disapproved of Erik, but this only made the two closer. They married, split up and finally reunited. But tragedy cut short their hard-won happiness. The trouble is, we never really care because the two are so relentlessly coarse and juvenile.
The plot outline is simple enough, but the parade of distasteful images which Verhoeven manages to squeeze into the film is just flabbergasting. Let's see...there's masturbation, rape, spewed vomit, a prosthetic breast, a penis caught in a zipper, insect larvae, scat talk, sculpted maggots, pubic clippings, pornographic drawings, rotting food, a jeep hitting a seagull, a dog defecating, another dog licking up amniotic liquid, a bloody car accident, a dying man's dripping bowels, a toilet bowl of discolored feces, a horse's eye found in dinner stew and a female lead who can scarcely get through a scene without flashing underwear or an intimate body part. Did I forget anything? Oh, right -- revolting table manners. Incredible. On the other hand, there are two brilliantly original images: an automobile-sex scene where squirting wiper fluid signals Erik's orgasm, and a bedroom scene where a woman discovers she can naturally rock her baby carriage just by holding its handle during intercourse. There's also a wonderful sand sculpture of an oversized nude woman. Is that enough to compensate? Factor in a memorable soundtrack with the perfect aura of swanky sleaze (harmonica by Toots Thielemans), and perhaps the scales come close to balancing out.
This is a very intense movie about love, hate, life and death with a lot of symbolism and realism at the same time. The plot is located in the early 70ies in Amsterdam and features Monique van der Ven and Rutger Hauer who give a really great performance. The supporting actors are also very well chosen, and Paul Verhoeven as the director, there are no words for, Marvelous.
It is one of the best European films I've ever seen till now. Funny, realistic and, this film is so catchy that you don't even notice the time passing by. Rutger Hauer is in one of his first roles here, and appears in the nude almost all the time. Many will enjoy... I did !!
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