Based on the Nobel Prize winning book by Neel Doff, the film shows how she escapes extreme poverty via good luck more than anything. In the first half of the film,she starts off doing poorly paid menial work before taking up prostitution. Fortunately for her, her second client doesn't want to have sex with her, but instead wants her to model for his paintings, so she spends the second half of the film hanging around with this painter's rich friends and begins dating Rutger Hauer, in a role that is also the polar opposite of that in Turkish Delight.
Ironically, for a film based on a prize winning true story, its with the story that this film disappoints as all of the good fortune that befalls her does seem to be entirely down to luck. She manages to find quite a few jobs easily enough at the start of the film, but for various reasons, fails to keep them for long. She didn't endure a long and sordid life in prostitution before finally escaping, but instead she just manages to get extremely lucky in her second attempt. After breaking up from Rutger Hauer, she's lucky enough to bump into one of his friends who turns out to be extremely rich.
This film is Paul Verhoeven's attempt at a period drama, and it's reasonably successful. The lack of a huge budget only really lets the film down near the end when what should be a shocking riot scene feels a bit underwhelming. Jan De Bont's average cinematography can also be partially blamed as he fails to light the scene with any real fear. Other than that, it's quite impressive. The period setting feels strange for a Verhoeven film, but moments of gratuitous full frontal male and female nudity quickly reminds you that this isn't a Merchant Ivory production.
IMDB currently gives this movie 6.8, which I'd agree with. Not a bad film, but certain elements leave you feeling slightly underwhelmed instead of moved.