2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Verhoeven's Original Blond With a Taste for Blood,
This review is from: The 4th Man (DVD)
For me this film held the most interest in the respect that it was early Paul Verhoeven, something I had never seen before. This was a quality experience that gave insight into his later work and created more curiosity for me about his earlier work. It does have a little trouble taking flight at the beginning, but once it does it provides the viewers with a worthwhile script and an intriguing ending. The story follows Gerard as he travels by train to give a literary speech. Once in the new town he hits it off with a good looking blond named Christine who has femme fatale written all over her. If only our hero had had the opportunity to see "Basic Instinct" before this journey of his perhaps he would have used more common sense. This controversial author with a focus on death gives in to her sexual demands even though he is quite clearly a homosexual. He decides to stay in her house for a few more days as a sort of live in sex toy. This leads to something of a problem as his snooping ways get the best of him and he soon discovers that Christine has been married three previous times. Plus, all of her exes have died and she has some very suspicious videos of them immediately before their deaths. Paranoia grows on top of paranoia in his mind after he concludes (rightfully) that all of her previous beaus have passed. I should point out that this whole Sherlock Holmes thing he is doing is not just out of innocent curiosity. No, you see, it is all part of a master plan to get close to Christine's other lover who Gerard has a thing for. . .real bad.
The thing that pushed this film over the edge from an OK one to a good one is the ending. It is left up to you to decide the truth about the situation. This is a tricky device to use as nobody really wants to spend two hours just to be left in the dark. The title refers to Gerard's theory that Christine plans on killing four men, and by the end of the film a fourth man connected to her has died. But is he truly the 4th Man? Or is it all part of a terrible run of luck for her? What about the film reels he finds? And what about the final death which certainly looks orchestrated by nobody other than fate. There are other questions to be found here as well. The whole film has a nice surreal quality to it. The dream sequences are disturbing and morbid. Many of them foretell the future, but we of course don't know it at the time. I also liked the way it swam in its own delicious sleaze. For instance, near the end Gerard and his object of lust find themselves in a tomb on the verge of sex. But it's not just any tomb, it is the tomb of Christine's three dead husbands. Oh please. Like they would really be buried together and like these two guys would just accidentally stumble in there for some recreational activities. I also liked the way they played with out perceptions of reality. We all see what we want to see. But Gerard is a drunk, Catholic writer, so he really sees what he wants to see. So I ask you, what did he see? Was he a crazed madman with no feel for truth or a perceptive onlooker who spoke the truth when nobody else dared to? ***1/4