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A Dutch film, post-Saturday Night Fever, which follows the lives of three young men who are amateur dirt-bike motorcycle racers. They each fall in love with a young woman who, with her brother, sells French fries and hot dogs at the races. Everyone is looking for a better life. She wants out of the business and away from her brother. The motocross racers want to make their marks as professional racers, like their hero, played by Rutger Hauer. Written by
Mark Logan <email@example.com>
The film was heavily criticized in Holland. Many critics accused the film of being anti-women, anti-gay, anti-invalid, and anti-Chistian. They also called it devoid of morals and needlessly decadent. This criticism was one of the contributing factors in Paul Verhoeven's decision to begin making films in America rather than his native land. In fact, on the film's commentary track Verhoeven states that the reason he was not fazed by the negative criticism of his film Showgirls (1995) was because he'd already been through it with Spetters (1980). See more »
After the rape scene in the metro, Jaap (brother of Fientje) gives Eef his shoe back, holding it at the heel side. But when the scene changes to a different angle he is holding the shoe at the nose side. See more »
Verhoeven's fifth feature-length film was attacked by critics, financiers, and much of the Dutch people alike for being "decadent", or "perverted" when originally released in 1980. Twenty-four years later, and unlike what has happened with Showgirls, Paul is having the last laugh. Even his worst film, 1995's Showgirls, has a glimmer of redeeming value, but the difference in Spetters is that it doesn't need any.
At heart, Spetters is the tale of two young amateur motocross racers and their mechanic. Along with their girlfriend, their lives are irrevocably altered when they cross paths with a fast food vendor and her brother. The whole film runs like a slice of life, and nothing that happens in real life is too distasteful for the camera.
If you don't want elements of the plot revealed, you can stop reading now.
The film has been accused of being anti-gay, anti-women, and anti-disabled. Once again, Verhoeven gets the last laugh when it becomes clear to anyone who watches it with their eyes open that none of these things are true. The story of one character's sexual confusion is played out in graphic detail, sure, but it is portrayed exactly as it would happen in real life. Sure, not every experience of homosexuality is as negative as in Spetters, but enough are to make this portrayal valid. The main woman of the story simply manipulates the situation or uses it as best she can to escape a situation she wants out of. Any woman with an ounce of strength in her character will do the same. The character who winds up paralysed finds himself reflecting on what he has lost, and it is enough to make him lose all sense of value in his life. Again, this happens every day in the real world.
There is a reason why films by Paul Verhoeven attract a certain kind of fan. Regardless of whether he succeeds or fails with his artistic goals, I have yet to see him sell out to the lowest common denominator. I have also never seen a film directed by Verhoeven where the camera is moved extraneously, obscuring details for fear of what the MPAA might have to say. The viewer is spared no details, even if it might make them turn from the screen in disgust.
If I could sum up Spetters in one word, it would be "relentless". I've seen many a film or television show that claims to show what kind of extreme pressures teenagers or young adults live under. Spetters is the first film I have seen in two decades that even makes the attempt, and better still it comes uncomfortably close. All in all, I consider it worthy of a nine out of ten. There are some elements that seem at odds with what Verhoeven would like us to believe they mean, but the effect overall is surprisingly good. Anyone who wants to see what would happen if they merged realistic versions of your typical Brat Packer film with a realistic version of Days Of Thunder will be well-served by checking out Spetters.
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