How Sexy Is Tulip Fever? A Tulip-Based Analysis

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On my way to fever your tulips. Photo: The Weinstein Company.

Spoilers for Tulip Fever ahead.

This weekend, the Weinstein Company’s Tulip Fever finally arrives in theaters after years of delays, bringing people the 17th Dutch costume drama nobody was sure we even needed back in 2015. Directed by The Other Boleyn Girl’s Justin Chadwick, Tulip Fever stars Dane DeHaan (Valerian) and Alicia Vikander (she got an Oscar for The Danish Girl) as star-crossed lovers amid the tulip mania in the Netherlands, during which tulip prices soared and then collapsed. There are so many things we could say about this movie — Tulip Fever includes more plotlines than tulip bulbs — but the key thing the Weinstein Company has settled on to sell it is the sex. In a classic play for attention, TWC put together a Tulip Fever trailer deemed too sexy for TV, which features few items of clothing, and so much mouth-breathing.

As one of the few people in the universe who saw a critic’s screening of Tulip Fever before the film’s release was bumped back, I consider it my sworn duty to report to you on the most important details of the film. Were the trailers right? Is Tulip Fever really the Calvinist sex romp Harvey Weinstein promised? It’s time to investigate. And because tulips are the sexiest flowers — as anyone who has seen Tulip Fever (me) can attest — I’ve decided to measure the sexiness of Tulip Fever in terms of tulips. Like a tulip dealer at the height of tulip mania, don’t think too much, and pretend the system works.

Tulip Fever stars generally attractive people Alicia Vikander (former human robot, +10 sexy tulips), Dane DeHaan (a “murder twink” +15 sexy tulips), Jack O’Connell (the guy from Unbroken +10 sexy tulips), Holliday Grainger (future star of the Cuckoo’s Calling adaptation +10 sexy tulips), and Christoph Waltz (that ruff! +30 sexy tulips).

• Also in the movie: Cara Delevingne (+10 sexy tulips for a Valerian reunion that was filmed before Valerian was even made), Matthew Morrison (-10 sexy tulips, Glee is not sexy), Zach Galifianakis (-10 sexy tulips for putting him in a semi-serious role), and Judi Dench (+35 sexy tulips and don’t you question me).

• Christoph Waltz’s character Cornelis Sandvoort essentially purchases Alicia Vikander’s character Sophia Sandvoort (great name, +35 sexy tulips) out of a life at an orphanage so that she can bear children for him (-30 sexy tulips for this obsession with making an heir).

• Christoph Waltz has trouble getting it up in bed (-20 sexy tulips); we are also subjected to a montage during which he keeps peeing into chamber pots (-30 sexy tulips).

• Meanwhile, Jack O’Connell, a fishmonger, and Holliday Grainger, Alicia and Christoph’s maid, pursue an affair of their own (+30 sexy tulips for subterfuge, +30 sexy tulips for sexy redundancy).

• Even though Alicia and Christoph are having trouble getting it on, Christoph decides to hire a painter — Dane DeHaan, doing his best Leo in Titanic, which does not nearly approach the quality of Leo in Titanic — to commemorate their love. During the painting session, Dane and Alicia have sex with their eyes (+25 sexy tulips) and later with their bodies (+15 sexy tulips; eye sex is always more sexy).

• The first two thirds of the film is mostly sex scenes, replete with butt shots (+30 sexy tulips).

• Alicia Vikander and Holliday Grainger conduct most of their business by running around town in cloaks (+10 sexy tulips, love a good cloak; -20 sexy tulips for not buying two different cloaks).

• Jack O’Connell decides to get into the tulip market and accidentally gets his hands on a rare tulip with the help of Judi Dench’s tulip gardening mother superior (+20 sexy tulips, gardening is very sexy).

• Jack O’Connell sees Alicia Vikander in the cloak and becomes convinced Holliday Grainger is hooking up with Dane DeHaan (while it is relatable to mistake Alicia Vikander for many other people, it is not sexy, -15 sexy tulips). Cara Delevingne then steals his money (-30 sexy tulips; crime isn’t sexy, kids, even when supermodels do it!).

• When Holliday Grainger gets pregnant with Jack O’Connell’s baby (now off in the Dutch colonies, -30 sexy tulips for colonialism), Alicia Vikander decides the best course of action is to pretend that she’s pregnant and then adopt Holliday’s baby after she gives birth (-20 sexy tulips for ridiculousness, -50 tulips because WHY DOES ALICIA VIKANDER KEEP STEALING BABIES?).

• When Holliday Grainger gets morning sickness and throws up around the house, Alicia Vikander has to pretend to get morning sickness and throw up in front of Christoph Waltz (-30 sexy tulips for too much vomit).

• In order to whisk Alicia Vikander away from terrible life with Christoph Waltz where Christoph Waltz terrorizes her by gifting her nice paintings, Dane DeHaan decides to get into the tulip market himself (-20 sexy tulips for overreliance on tulips as a plot point). He tries to steal a tulip from Judi Dench’s garden, but Judi Dench sneaks up from behind and knocks him out cold (+50 sexy tulips, I mean … !!!).

• Dane DeHaan acquires ridiculous levels of debt while prospecting over tulip prices, eventually investing it all in one single tulip bulb (-40 sexy tulips for bad personal finance).

• Alicia Vikander decides to pretend to die in childbirth in order to escape to a life with Christoph (-20 sexy tulips for duplicity). Tom Hollander plays the wisecracking doctor, Dr. Sorgh, mostly just goofs around in the role (+10 sexy tulips for committing to the bit).

• Alicia Vikander and Dane DeHaan plot their escape while lying around on a beach (+20 sexy tulips, Alicia Vikander is great with beaches).

• Zach Galifianakis gets drunk and eats Dane DeHaan’s tulip bulb, thinking it’s an onion (-10 sexy tulips; don’t eat tulips). Dane DeHaan loses everything (+10 sexy tulips, who cares about money when you have love?). Alicia Vikander decides she doesn’t want to run away, runs off to a beach looking distraught (-30 sexy tulips, I guess they didn’t have love; +20 sexy tulips for continued use of beaches).

• The tulip market crashes (-20 sexy tulips for everyone’s despair; +30 sexy tulips because capitalism isn’t sexy and thus its collapse is).

• Years later, Dane DeHaan gets a job as a painter; Alicia Vikander becomes some sort of nun? (-10 sexy tulips because this part was unclear). Jack O’Connell comes back (+30 sexy tulips because resurrection is sexy). Christoph Waltz goes off to the colonies (-30 sexy tulips; again, colonialism is not sexy).

Our final tally: Tulip Fever’s approximate sexiness is worth the value of 10 tulips! That’s not a ton of tulips, but it’s a respectable amount. Enough so that your parents might be a little awkward if you ever see Tulip Fever with them, but nothing salacious. This movie might not give you full-on tulip fever, but you might get a light case of the sniffles, or that sensation where you feel like you’re about to sneeze, but never do. That, plus tulips.

How Sexy Is Tulip Fever? A Tulip-Based Analysis