The opening movement is joshing carnal vaudeville with a nasty edge, a string of shocks as loutish sculptor Rutger Hauer brutally hops from lay to lay -- pubic hair snipped as a memento, "I fuck better than God," a squishy horse's eye spotted in the food. Why all the angry screwing? Turns out it's to forget vivacious Monique Van de Ven, the one gal he actually had feelings for ever since she helped him unzip his fly-caught prick following their first roadside quickie. Linked by passion and attuned to the music of their genitals, the two move in together, though their happiness gets shakier when faced with the limits of physicality and, eventually, by the girl's growing instability. As befits the softcore come-on of the title, the unblushing sexual athletes of Paul Verhoeven's breakout Dutch hit are nothing if not intrepid in their humping vigor and oddly childlike in their refusal of inhibition, na´vely careless to the demands of an order outside their mattress -- in a way as utopian-romantic as the slushy lovers of Elvira Madigan, but with Bo Widerberg's prettified gentility pulverized by Verhoeven's ramming vulgarity. Virtually as a corrective to that picture's insufferably coy pastoralism, Verhoeven insists on widescreen displays of the impurities of life, and semen, vomit and shit spurt in equal portions. Inevitably, sex is braided to death: Van de Ven presses a flower bouquet to her naked chest only to leave a trail of maggots, and the story opens with Hauer rousing himself out of bludgeoning-throttling fantasies to jerk off to his beloved's photo. The film is just as often weighted down by clumsy comic antics (the unveiling of a statue for the visiting Queen is almost ruined by Van de Ven's peek-a-boo nipplage), yet Verhoeven's anarchic force has the courage to push its crudeness into a style, as vital and unashamed as Bukowski's. Gerard Soeteman adapted Jan Wolkers' novel.
--- Fernando F. Croce