Monday, November 07, 2011
BUSINESS IS BUSINESS (1971) -
Paul Verhoeven's first full-fledged feature, also known as Diary of a Hooker, plays a bit like a '70s-era Pretty Woman had it been tag team directed by Benny Hill and a young Brian DePalma in his Hi, Mom! days. It's a surprisingly good natured sex farce (surprising, in that Verhoeven is not usually known for his sweet nature), irreverent in spots and generally business-like about the world's oldest profession without ever sinking into gritty expose.
Verhoeven's sex worker Greet is auburn haired...and that's where the Julia Roberts comparisons end. Greet's no fresh faced ingenue pretending to slum it in designer stilettos. She's an Amsterdam call girl a little past her prime who works out of her apartment and entertains just about any odd fetish that walks in. Her best friend in the world is not a plucky Laura San Giacomo type but the plump housewife across the hall who occasionally "assists" with some of Greet's tricks for extra cash. There is a john who becomes more than just a customer and teases with promises of taking Greet out of the life. This guy's no billionaire corporate raider with Richard Gere looks. He's just a good-natured, balding business man, bored with married life and keen on Greet's prowess between the sheets. At least until the wife at home becomes preggers. So much for the Roy Orbison fairy tale.
Business is Business is by no means the Citizen Kane of hooker movies. But it's a fun first outing for Verhoeven, a solid planting of his horndog flag in international cinema sands. It sets his agenda right out of the gate, hinting at future pervs, prostitutes and other fine Verhoeven things to come.