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Tricked | DVD Review

Paul Verhoeven Tricked ReviewAs the world awaits the release of his first actual feature in a decade, the sensational Cannes premiered Elle, audiences can ponder Paul Verhoeven‘s 2012 experimental pit stop, the crowdsourced Tricked, an ambitious failure which attempted to formulate filmmaking as a community effort. Inadvertently posing as evidence for auteur theory, it’s an interesting attempt from the Dutch master, and even if it’s narrative is a rather heavy-handed metaphor on the ills of capitalism mounted atop privileged familial discord, it’s certainly worth a look. Judging by it’s rather unenthusiastic limited release in February, 2016 (four years after it played at the Rome Film Festival), it still has yet to find an audience.

Ineke (Ricky Koole) is hosting a birthday bash for her philandering husband Remco (Peter Blok), who has just turned fifty. Their daughter Lieke (Carolien Spoor) excitedly invites bestie Merel (Gaite Jansen) up to her bedroom for a little cocaine fueled pre-partying as guests arrives. Breaking into her brother’s (Robert de Hoog) bedroom, they discover he has a lusty fascination with Merel, though it seems she’s already entered an illicit affair to Remco, though no one knows it yet. Meanwhile, Remco’s very pregnant ex-mistress Nadja (Salie Harmsen) shows up to congratulate the aging real estate developer, which rather dampens the mood. Following the party, Remco finds himself being blackmailed into selling his shares of the company in a plan devised by Nadja and his business partner.

Ironically, the kind of control Verhoeven grew tired of dealing with in the US studio system rears its head in another guise during the construction of Tricked as he becomes a slave to the uncontained imaginations of innumerable authors (upwards of 370 reported). Thus, the behind-the-scenes travails are ultimately more interesting than the final product. But Verhoeven indicates his desire for a creative challenge motivating this project, even though it wasn’t an altogether fruitful one, and Tricked plays like a meager pit stop between the decade long stretch from 2006’s Black Book to 2016’s forthcoming Elle, wherein he tackles his first French language endeavor.

Performances are routinely polished, with Ricky Koole as Remco’s icy, bitter wife as the stand out in a cavalcade of melodramatic twists. Entertaining in a kind of tawdry, day-time t.v. soap opera sense, Tricked never feels as transgressive as we’d expect from Verhoeven, even though it features requisite provocations like coke-sniffing teens, rampant adultery, and a bloody tampon which becomes the ultimate dramatic catalyst. Most of the narrative depends on significant reveals between the principal characters, nearly all of these revolving around who Remco has slept with at one point or another. Eventually, this becomes a tired trick, even as it ends with a beautifully violent confrontation.

But nothing about Tricked feels cinematic, including its brightly lit, glossy interiors, which makes this feel like a savvy pilot for an impending series. One wonders what glorious sleaze this could have been had it been completely devised from Verhoeven’s id, like a tricked out version of something like Vinterberg’s The Celebration (1998).

Disc Review:

Kino Lorber releases Tricked on DVD only, presented in 1.85:1, and resembling something more appropriate for television. Although the transfer is fine, there’s nothing innately cinematic in either the film’s presentation or its unveiling for personal consumption. Strangely, for extra features, more behind-the-scenes footage is included.

Behind-the-Scenes Footage:
A little over twenty minutes of extra footage is included, which seems like scraps excised from the first portion of Tricked or glossy dreck, such as two overly produced segments about the unique casting process for the project, which look and sound like spots for a game show.

A three minute “interview” with Carolien Spoor on the red carpet and a six minute segment featuring Verhoeven are included on the film’s interview extras.

Final Thoughts:

Although the behind-the-scenes process making up the first half of the film is illuminating, this would have been better served to remain a short narrative experiment from Verhoeven.

Film Review: ★★½/☆☆☆☆☆
Disc Review: ★★½/☆☆☆☆☆

Los Angeles based Nicholas Bell is's Chief Film Critic and covers film festivals such as Sundance, Berlin, Cannes and TIFF. He is part of the critic groups on Rotten Tomatoes, The Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and GALECA. His top 3 for 2021: France (Bruno Dumont), Passing (Rebecca Hall) and Nightmare Alley (Guillermo Del Toro). He was a jury member at the 2019 Cleveland International Film Festival.

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