Credits: Directed by Paul Verhoeven and starring Carice van Houten, Sebastian Koch, Thom Hoffman, Halina Reijn, Waldemar Kobus, Derek de Lint, Christian Berkel, Dolf de Vries, Peter Blok and Michiel Huisman.
Details: (MA15+), 140 mins, Netherlands,
Synopsis: Rachel Stein (Carice van Houten) is hiding in rural Holland in the final stages of the war. When her foster home is destroyed by a bomb, she is rescued by a Resistance fighter and she meets Mr Smaal (Dolf de Vries) a lawyer helping rich Jews escape. But the planned escape ends in slaughter, including Rachel's family. She joins the Resistance and becomes involved with a high ranking SS officer Ludwig Muntze (Sebastian Koch), hoping to gather useful information. As Muntze's conscience steers him towards an unofficial cease-fire with the Resistance, his fellow officers turn on him. Meanwhile, after a failed attempt to free Resistance fighters from the Nazi jail, Rachel is implicated as a traitor to the Resistance and her life is at great risk, as is the life of Muntze.
A rompish feel about it that detracts from the obvious seriousness of the subject matter.
After 20 years in Hollywood, directing such films as Robocop, Total Recall and Basic Instinct, Paul Verhoeven has returned to his native Holland to direct Black Book.
Set in Holland during the final years of the Second World War Black Book is a thriller that tells the story of a young Jewish girl who is saved by the Dutch resistance. She agrees to infiltrate Gestapo headquarters in the Hague, but once inside, falls for the Head of the Dutch SD.
There is not much that doesn’t happen to Rachel in Verhoeven’s Black Book and she seems to have more lives than a cat.
Usually Verhoeven is content just to direct but this time he has co-written the script with his long time collaborator Gerard Soeteman thus accounting for some of the farther fetched aspects of the story.
The acting is earnest and full of zeal and Verhoeven made sure that all of the crew were local - obviously wanting to give back to an industry that got him started - and indeed the film has done great business in Holland…
However, although very engaging, the film has a rompish feel about it that detracts from the obvious seriousness of the subject matter.
I found it so frustrating that lead actress Carice Van Houten was never without a slash of red lippy and plenty of mascara even in times of EXTREME peril! This unfortunately, greatly affected the impact of her performance.
The film starts out so promisingly, it has a charming other worldly look about it and you believe you are viewing 1944 but gradually it begins to rely on Verhoeven’s past formula - graphic nudity, sex and violence…
…and yes he even manages to include the obligatory up skirt shot!
With its intruding music score, Verhoeven is constantly dictating the tone and what you are to feel thus never allowing the text to do its job.
Even though Black Book is very watchable, it only really works as light entertainment and not as a serious look at a delicate phase in history.
Easy to watch but unfortunately shallow I can only give it 2.5 stars. Black Book is in cinemas now.
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