"Burning Love" is an earthy romantic comedy from the Netherlands - heavy
on the comedy.
Two art students in Amsterdam want to win a scholarship to study in Paris
and feel that learning French will give them an advantage. They find the
perfect solution in an old woman who not only teaches French, but has
influence over the scholarship selection. She lives with her ancient father,
who is ill, and a couple, Monique van de Ven and her violinist husband. They
are able to secure French lessons with her, and end up living in her attic
in exchange for taking care of her father. The students' real reason for
staying in her house, however, is to get close enough to Monique van de Ven
to get her to pose nude.
As an idea of the humor, one of the artists is at the table for
mid-morning coffee, a delightful Dutch custom, and the father is farting.
The landlady is trying to ignore him. She offers milk to the artist, and
starts pouring it into his coffee before he can say no. He starts stirring
it, and it is curdled. He takes a drink anyway, just as the father farts
loudly, and he sprays it all over the table.
Other events in this film will have you scratching your head, like
Monique van de Ven masturbating one of the artists, or footage of Monique
giving birth with inserts of an actual childbirth. Monique was clearly not
pregnant for real, as she was married to cinematographer Jan de Bont from
1970 to 1987, and he had no children during that time. Given that fact, the
prosthetic stomach was very well done.
It is interesting that the source novel was written by Jan Wolkers, who
also wrote Spetters and Turks Fruit, both directed by Paul Verhoeven and
photographed by de Bont. Monique appeared in Turks Fruit and in yet another
film (Keetje Tippel) directed by Verhoeven and photographed by her husband
de Bont. Although Verhoeven went on to great success in Hollywood
(Showgirls, Basic Instinct, Starship Troopers, Total Recall and Robocop), as
did de Bont (Die Hard, Basic Instinct), their earlier Dutch collaborations
are believed by many, including me, to be their finest work. Burning Love
certainly suffers by comparison to the Verhoeven/de Bont catalogue, although
it is probably funny enough to be watchable if you speak Dutch (the DVD has
no subtitles) and if lowbrow physical humor
appeals to you. If not, stay away unless you are interested in the nudity,
which is excellent.