THE FOURTH MAN (1983)
aka De vierde man
Article 5078 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Paul Vehoeven
Featuring Jeroen Krabbe, Renee Soutendijk, Thom Hoffman
What it is: Ambiguous thriller
A bisexual Catholic writer who is a recovering alcoholic is having nightmarish visions of doom and death. He ends up having an affair with a woman who may have a skeleton in her closet…or possibly, even more than one…
Every plot description I’ve seen of this one gives away a revelation that does not reveal itself until fairly late in the plot, so I won’t give it away here. However, since I was aware of it, I was able to figure out the meaning of some of the strange and disturbing visions during the first third of the movie; however, there are still some surprises to be had. I went into this one not really knowing what to expect or whether I’d like it, but the first third of the movie is so stylishly unsettling that I was drawn in. The movie ended up being also a lot more ambiguous than I thought it would be; in the end, I’m not sure how much is true and how much is the result of the overactive imagination of the writer, and interestingly enough, that last facet of the story makes it dovetail in an odd way with the movie I saw yesterday, THE FANTASTIC WORLD OF D.C. COLLINS, in which a child’s imagination causes him to fall out of reality occasionally. As for the fantastic content, it doesn’t matter that much if the presence of a serial killer and/or a witch is ambiguous or not; the writer’s visions are clearly prophetic and possibly mystical. Ultimately, I found this a fascinating and complex movie, and I really enjoyed it.