Only two years separate The Fourth Man, the final Dutch language movie by director Paul Verhoeven, and the explosive commencement of his Hollywood career. Controversy raged about violence in Flesh & Blood, RoboCop and everything else he made thereafter. Yet controversy has always been a part of the filmmaker's work. This savage comedy shocker could well be seen as a trial run for Basic Instinct, since it features an ice-cold seductress (Renée Soutendijk) with mysterious motivations and sexual preferences. The hallucinatory tale follows a novelist (Jeroen Krabbé) first falling for her, and then feverishly investigating whether she's a serial husband killer. The film is full of what would soon be recognized as Verhoeven trademarks: a little blasphemy, a lot of nudity, dispassionate characters, and hidden agendas. One of the aspects that caught the eye of international audiences was the film's colorful lighting and camerawork. This was from Jan de Bont, who, thanks in large part to Verhoeven, would go on to direct Speed and others. Full of symbolic flourishes and allegorical plot points The Fourth Man is a dizzying display of the type of black comedy that not even Verhoeven can get away with in today's politically aware industry. --Paul Tonks
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