I’m a big Paul Verhoeven fan, but lately he’s gone quiet other than the short Dutch film Tricked, which unfortunately I haven’t seen. I like his movies because they take concepts that other people could have done poorly, and injects them with an electric mixture of weirdness and danger. Even Showgirls, which is reviled, is celebrated for being so bad it’s good. While his previous films Total Recall and RoboCop were watered down into forgettable remakes, Verhoeven is still willing to court controversy, and his next movie will almost certainly do that.
Hit the jump for more.
According to a press release from production company Wild Bunch, they’re trying to put together funding for Verhoeven’s untitled adaptation of French writer Philippe Djian’s 2012 novel Oh…. Per the press release, the story revolves “around a psychological game of cat-and-mouse between a businesswoman and a stalker who raped her, a crime for which she is seeking revenge.”
Using rape as a central plot point always requires extreme caution because while we shouldn’t embrace censorship, we still associate films with entertainment even though there are plenty of movies that aren’t “entertaining” in the conventional sense. When it comes to rape, a filmmaker has to navigate the boundaries of making sure the rape isn’t titillating, but also can’t be so timid as to back off completely and render the violation as something sterile and academic. Rape is a direct horror, and while there are plenty of filmmakers who fail in trying to maturely depict this act (even David Fincher couldn’t pull it off in Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), I think Verhoeven has the skill and experience to handle it while retaining his distinct style.
But this movie will like be judged from the get go based solely on the logline, and this note from the preleased “Casting is being finalised. It’s a very intelligent script but it’s also pure Verhoeven, extremely erotic and perverted, so the actress has to be prepared to take that on,” said Wild Bunch co-chief Vincent Maraval.
“Erotic and perverted” is the kind of volatile mix I would expect from Verhoeven, but that’s a description that will engender passionate controversy before cameras even role (assuming they ever do).
Thankfully, he can always fall back on trying to adapt his book Jesus of Nazareth, which is a nonfiction exploration of the real Jesus. That wouldn’t be controversial at all.