Remco (Peter Blok - left), Ineke (Ricky Koole, middle) and daughter Lieke (Carolien Spoor, right). Remco is telling his family he wants to sell the company.
(Photo : Photo Credit: Entertainment Experience)
For his first film since the 2006's "Black Book," Dutch director Paul Verhoeven has chosen to experiment using the social media as the general public determines the plots twists, graphics, music score and even the art direction of his latest movie.
The film, "Tricked," tells the story of Remco (Peter Blok) whose life takes a turn for the worst during his 50th birthday. His business partners are scheming behind his back to sell his business and his former mistress shows up pregnant. The film was conceived by screenwriter Kim Van Kooten who wrote the first four pages of the film but left it up to the general audience to finish the story.
As its name suggests there is more than meets the eye with the actual film's structure. Based on the synopsis, audiences will expect to immediately enter a narrative movie. However Verhoeven chooses to start off with a documentary entitled "Paul's Experience" in which he tracks the process of the making the narrative "Tricked" and goes behind the scenes.
The documentary is engaging as Verhoeven gives a detailed look into the difficulties of receiving over 700 scripts and having to read over 3,000 pages in order to decide how the story will proceed. The documentary feels a bit disorienting, as does its complementary narrative section, and the viewer is left with the suspense of watching the final product. Eventually Verhoeven gives the spectator his/her due and presents the completed movie half-way throughout; this gives the documentary sections a strong sense of closure.
The film's opening credits are filled with over-the-top music by Fons Merkie that suggest the goofy, quasi-farcical style of the film. Once the credits end, Verhoeven introduces the audience to Remco's family as they plan his 50th birthday. His daughter Lieke (Carolien Spoor) is a rebellious girl who has an animosity for her father while his son Tobias (Robert de Hoog) is a bit awkward and somewhat of an introvert. His wife Ineke (Ricky Koole) seems to be the all-dutiful wife.
At the party Verhoeven then introduces Merel (Gaite Jansen), Lieke's best friend and Remco's secret lover. He also introduces Remco's business associates as well as the pregnant Nadja (Sallie Harmsen), Remco's old fling.
Through this sequence Verhoeven makes it clear that these characters have hidden intentions. Merel is secretly looking for Remco although she denies it when she arrives. Nadja mysteriously returns from Japan and is eight months pregnant. Meanwhile, Tobias is clearly in love with Merel as he constantly stares at her in an awkward matter. Lieke on the other hand is suspicious of Merel and therefore tries to distance the two.
This initial sequence jolts the viewer into a series of unpredictable twists and turns that make the seemingly intimate family film turn into a comedic suspense thriller. Nadja is in cahoots with Remco's associates to blackmail Remco with a child. Meanwhile Remco tries to hide his new child and business transaction from his wife. As he tries to maintain his life in complete control, he fails to realize everyone else is a step ahead of him.
The 52 minute pilot is light-hearted throughout. For instance, Merel and Lieke discover Tobias' photoshopped pictures of Merel in one scene; the extravagant collages are hilarious, but Merel's reaction only adds to the fun. In another climactic sequence, one character reveals a lie by stabbing another one in exaggerated fashion; it isn't as bad as it sounds.
There are also some raw moments that recall Verhoeven's early films such as when the two girls snort cocaine and when Lieke throws up after drinking too much alcohol. It is a bit nauseating but in the full scheme of things it adds to the larger-than-life nature of these characters.
The film is mainly shot with handheld camera that provides the actors with a greater sense of freedom. During the party scene, the camera moves about the room giving it a more naturalistic feel. In another moment, Merel and Tobias sneak up to the top of an apartment building; the camera follows them throughout and creates a strong feeling of suspense.
"Tricked" is filled with crazed moments that make this film border on farce, but its shocking plot twists make this one of the most engaging and entertaining escapes from the overall dark and somber tone of the festival.