on June 17, 2003
Based on the true story of a woman named Neel Doff, this film is somewhat of a departure from Verhoeven's other films in that it's a period piece but his style and master's touch remain. Monique Van Der Ven plays Katie, an impoverished waif whose indominatable will to survive is this film's backbone. Van Der Ven is remarkable. All wide eyed innocence yet streetwise when necessary. The poverty of 1800's Amsterdam is vividly captured as Katie's knockabout family struggle with hunger---prompting Mama to prostitute first one daughter (who goes from pig to alcoholic pig) then Katie. Katie learns fast what money can do and she leaves her foul family to be the mistress of a social climbing user (Rutger Hauer). But her fate changes again...and again. This is tamer than some of Verhoeven's work. There is a rough but quick rape scene that's handled well and not exploitive and some frank nudity but all in all Verhoeven concentrates on telling Katie's story rather than sex. The ending is rather ambiguous but leaves you satisfied that Katie has indeed finally overcome her overwhelming obstacles. Rich in detail and period flavor, this film is sumptuous to look at and the acting is sublime---esp. Van Der Ven as Katie. Some strong scenes may make some viewers squirm but, as with pre-Hollywood Verhoeven, he's honest as a filmmaker. The DVD from good old Anchor Bay is glorious.
on September 18, 2003
This movie was far overrated. I bought it because everybody seemed to be giving away stars. At one point I actually yawned. I just couldn't feel what Katie was feeling at all. Granted, the acting, costumes, setting etc. were great. I just think the film failed to really pull the audience in. Katie's character was too vague, hence we really didn't get into her mind. There was absolutely no climax. Just a series of quick transitions from point A to B with nothing to make you really shake your head, or your fist. For pete's sake, the woman was forever starving, and not to mention raped, yet I couldn't foster up an ounce of pity for her (and this is coming from someone who still hasn't watched "The Lion King", because I heard one of the lions died). I'll tell you this though, you'll get more reaction out of Katie if you mess with her food. Yep, steal her bread and she'll introduce your face to some heavy duty washing solution that could blind you. But rape her, and she'll merely break your window and run away with a satisfied smirk.
And what's up with the ending? Did they run out of $$? I don't know if reading these reviews actually raised my hopes up too high, or maybe it's the fact that I'd just finished watching "Turkish Delight", also with Rutger and Monique, and absolutely loved it. Bottom line: mediocre film, better just to rent it. I certainly won't be watching this again for at least another year or two.
on August 17, 2004
This film is visually stunning with a soundtrack that sounds truly haunted. Occasionally the film lets itself down with it's editing. I sometimes feel disorientated thinking " wait slow down will you." Having said that - this film is well acted, and really puts you in the Netherlands of the 19th Century. It may not be as hard hitting and exciting as Turkish Delight but this film is equally competent and well worth watching.
on January 4, 2004
Awesome! Great performances, cinematography, score and of course direction. Brilliant and realistic period film about a young girl struggling through poverty stricken Europe in the late 1800's in the Netherlands. The ending may seem abrupt to some but it does thankfully end on a happy note.
on October 10, 2000
The pragmatism present in Dutch art and culture is presented magnificently in this early film by the future director of Showgirls. (In fact, Showgirls makes a lot more sense once you've seen this film.) This is Pretty Woman done correctly--and twenty years earlier at that. Katie's final goal in her journey through prostitution is not a prince charming, but economic freedom, independence, social standing and a sense of self. Beautiful cinematography by Jan De Bont, future director of Speed and Twister. Based on a true story.