“Turkish Delight” (“Turks fruit”) is a Dutch movie by Paul Verhoeven of later Hollywood fame, starring Rutger Hauer, also of later Hollywood fame, as the artist Eric Vonk. This was the most successful movie in Dutch history and according to the Book, this was by a Dutch festival in 1999 celebrated as the best Dutch movie of the century. This would explain why there are so few Dutch movies on the List. I believe this is the first one, almost 600 movies down the List, and I am not certain there are any others coming up. I disliked this movie. With a vengeance.
Erik Vonk lies half naked on his bed, dreaming of killing people. Then he masturbates to a nude photo on the wall. His apartment is a dump. In the following montage he picks up random girls who are all mysteriously impressed with him, screws them and dumps them. He is rude, nihilistic and thinks with his genitals. What a nice guy.
Then we jump back in time. Erik Vonk is part of a team doing art for a church and manages to stir up a lot of trouble. Leaving the site he hitch hike with a woman, Olga (Monique van de Ven), whom he hits on. They have sex in the car and he causes a crash that sends her off to the hospital half dead. So, they are in love.
Olga’s mother is not excited about this and tries to keep him away, but Erik will not be denied and forces his way and fortunately for Erik both Olga and her father are more positive. They get married and Erik hates Olga’s relatives and their gifts. He just wants to have sex with her and use her as a model for his art. Eventually that life is too boring for Olga who finds another guy and leaves him and this is where we find him at the beginning of the movie
If this had not been a List movie, I would have quit it after half an hour. It is obvious that Erik Vonk is a great rebel, hurrah. But he is also a complete asshole who cares nothing for other people and all his anti-conventional theatrics is simply his singular quest for self-gratification. Even his way of making up is to rape a girl in his sleep, because who can deny him? I did not feel like spending my time with this guy.
Alas, I am nothing if not a completist, so I did not quit after half an hour and what I did learn as the movie progressed was that there is a point to the movie. All Vonk’s (and Olga’s for that matter) unconventionalism has as purpose to expose the hypocrisy of the conventional lives of their surroundings, whether it is an official ceremony attended by the queen or Olga’s mother’s bourgeois aspirations. Sort of saying that what we consider as normal is just as bad as Vonk. And of course there is a lot of hypocrisy and Olga’s mother is a character just as awful as Erik, but that does not make me sympathize with him any more. He is still a complete jackass. The complete liberation from conventions means in Vonk’s personification that only self-gratification is left, carnal preferably.
Then, after the divorce, in the final act, we see a calmed down Erik Vonk and an Olga still hyped, but suddenly hit by a brain tumor and we go through the painful stages of her death struggle. In the face of something bigger their anti-conventionalism does not matter zip.
That part was more difficult to understand the meaning of, mostly because Vonk is completely changed, but also because it does not seem to follow the key message of the rest of the movie. Almost as if we are to learn than Erik Vonk is actually a good guy. That he learnt to care for something else than himself. Ah, well…
“Turkish Delight” caused a stir with its very explicit sex scenes. There is a lot of nudity going on and none of it is particularly arousing. It is my guess that it functions to emphasize how unconventional it is, along with Vonk, to show how all the people who takes offense by it are a bunch of hypocrites. Personally, I do not care one way or the other, I just think Vonk is a pig, end.
If you like bad boys and think narcissistic and nihilistic artists are the coolest thing ever, this is the movie for you. I do not understand how anyone else can like this movie.
The Academy did though. That may say something interesting about them…