I just saw this film last night and was really amazed by it. Unlike the Verhoeven films that most American audiences are familiar with (Robocop, Total Recall etc) it was a compelling coming of age piece set in Holland. Like most of his early Dutch films, you can feel many of the hallmarks of his style coming together and it's a testament to his skill as a director that he can make a small character-driven film about ordinary people like SPETTERS every bit as compelling as a gigantic special effects driven spectacle like ROBOCOP.This is an 80's disco motocross movie that has very little disco and very little motocross. What it has are many strong characters, all of them navigating life transitions and trying to figure out their place in the world.As for the "shocking" scenes that a lot of people are referring to in the posts, there is a fair amount of sex and nudity (male especially) in this film but to call it "shocking" is misleading. The reason the film's frank treatment of sexuality is so eye opening is the way Verhoeven handles it as no big deal. Two men sneak into a subway for a tryst, and you actually see one of the guys go down on the other guy. Two pairs of teenagers sneak into an abandoned building to have sex and you see it. Or when a man and a woman lay in bed talking after having sex, you see the guy totally naked as well as the girl. What happens happens and it's presented as is.Verhoeven doesn't cut away from nudity, but at the same time doesn't artificially sexualize it by zooming in it, laying in sexy background music etc etc. Like the co-ed shower scene in STARSHIP TROOPERS, it's presented in a completely matter of fact way. Verhoeven doesn't allude to anything in these scenes, and it gives the film a power and honesty and that wouldn't be there otherwise.Overall I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND this movie to anyone.Bart Blackstone * Film Club Hollywood, CA
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.
This film is really great. It's about three young, cocky Dutch guys whose lives revolve around Motorcross racing and their encounters with a cute, ambitious, smart working-class girl who lives in a trailer and is a short order cook around the Motorcross site.It is ultra-realistic and true to life and at the same time over-the-top and absurd to satirize the equally ridiculous but more fleeting absurdities of everyday life; in fact, 'real life' is much more absurd than anything that happens in this movie, but 'toned down,' and harder to notice, except upon reflection. With 'over the top' movies like "Spetters" the absurdities we all notice are turned 'way up high' for instant and easier identification and reflection. Other great movies of this type I've seen are Verhoeven's American version of "Spetters," "Showgirls," Sam Fuller's "Shock Corridor," Ken Russell's fantastic uncut version of "Crimes of Passion," and Mathew Bright's first "Freeway," but "Spetters" tops them all. It is the ultimate masterpiece of 'over-the-top' satire.Try to find a well-stocked video store that carries the uncensored, subtitled Director's cut for rent (it's got some very graphic sex scenes in it with full fronal nudity, and a homosexual gang rape that makes anything in "American Me" look tame); it's a well transferred version which came out on HBO video a few years ago, and is now unavailable for sale for some reason; I'd buy it in a second if it was available.
While I wouldn't call this film anything great, it did manage to consistently keep me entertained and interested, and that usually isn't an easy task. The music stood out as a particularly effective part of the movie, as I often found it to be chilling. There were also a number of fascinating scenes in this movie, many of which would probably not be for all tastes. In fact, much like most Verhoeven films, this movie probably isn't for everybody, since it does get somewhat graphic at times. However, if you are a person who can handle the occasional disturbing image, then I would say that you should give this film a look.
I really found much to like about this hard-edged drama. For one thing; its impressionable cast with characters like Rien and Fientje; and sharp cinematography make it a real winner. I enjoy watching this as a double bill with SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER; there are strong similarities between the two. The scenes are shot with a lot of earnestness and validity. I find it ironically saddening that the man who played Rien (Hans van Tongeren) committed suicide in 1982 two years after he played this role at the young age of 28. It's nice to know that Verhoeven has a gift with drama as he does with big action movies like ROBOCOP and BASIC INSTINCT. If you have the means, choose this movie.