Fairly acclaimed Dutch director Paul Verhoeven is responsible for a film called Spetters, yep, responsible.
Spetters is a motocross movie made in 1980. The main characters are three motocross hopefuls. Rein (Hans van Tongeren) who is truly good and gets commercial backing; a semi-tragedy centers around him about halfway through the film, but I will not go into details (in case you want to watch this turkey). Eef (Toon Agterberg) turns out to be the only complex character; at first he is just a very talented grease monkey. He begins beating up gay prostitutes to steal their cash—not too long after this begins, a group of gay men rape him and this (ironically) makes him come to terms with his sexuality. The last of the trio is Hans who is just a comical fop throughout.
At one of the motocross tournaments the young men meet Fientje (Renee Soutendijk) who, with her brother, run a traveling food cart. The three consider her to be unquestionably beautiful and try to win her favor (complete with what amounts to cock blocking—forgive the vulgarity, but I can think of no better way to put it).
Spetters also examines the relationship each of these young men has with their fathers. Rein’s father is a very happy bar owner extremely proud and supportive of his son. Hans’s father is seldom seen, but the relationship is never strained. Eef’s father is a strict Calvinist. Obviously a motocross obsessed then gay son and a Calvinist father will not get along. Still Eef decides to stay just to show up his father as best he can.
Netflix and Wikipedia both refer to Spetters as a coming of age film. It isn’t. Rein faces a tragedy, Eef faces a fairly small amount of movie time with his “new” sexuality crisis and Hans never stops being a fop. Though it might appear so, there really is no change in any of the characters. I also don’t see the age from what appears to be 20-25 anywhere near a coming of age story. If you have not come into your age by then, it will be an uphill battle ever to get there.
For me coming of age means two distinct events. The first is the move from tween to teen. The personality changes and crises here, while difficult to pull off so that adults won’t roll their eyes, can be severe and, in the right hands can speak to teen and adult alike Twelve and Holding (http://www.epinions.com/content_268353310340>) is a good example of this. The second coming of age event is losing one’s virginity. These are usually rarer (in a drama anyway) because in a prudish time, they are difficult to get funded or produced. This act is a decidedly “adult” act, so a teenager doing this makes a further step towards coming “of age” even if it is not what one or the other expects. The only change during the time from 18-20, typically is that either the character has to start college and faces whatever is there, or the military and whatever the character faces there. There is also the buddy movie of the last great summer Y tu mama tambian is one of this ilk—I think it ultimately fails, but it is a recent example of this sort of facing the last “irresponsible” summer before decisions made have to be met.
Let’s assume that the trio are all 18(a significant stretch) and trying this motocross thing for just a little while longer before they have to decide on an adult situation. The film covers such a short period of time and no real growth occurs, that nothing comes of nothing.
Even had I not read the first sentence of the Netflix sleeve, I would still have hated it. The acting is simplistic because the characters are all just types from central casting. Even fair actors could have worked that out with just a bit of help from the director, but crap actors will not be able to expand the scope of their role no matter who is trying to elicit it. Mr. Verhoeven has directed special effect films like Total Recall and Starship Troopers. Each was terrible in its own way, but they didn’t totally suck because the camerawork in each of them complimented the special effects rather than just relying on them. Spetters has no special effects, so the only thing to do is hope the performances can pull this one out of the mud—no such luck. At least the more recent Verhoeven films were treats for the eyes even though the acting was really bad. Spetters only proves that the director may have an eye towards the extra-film niceties but doesn’t give a rip for acting or doesn’t have the slightest idea how to pull decent performances from his cast.
Unless you just really like motocross, there is no reason to watch this film. Even if you do, you will need to skip past the talky scenes.
Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: None of the Above
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