War/Military R Running time: 2:25
IMDB rating: 7.8 Aspect: Wide; Languages: Dutch; Subtitles: English, French, Spanish; Audio: DD 5.1
As in Basic Instinct, a lovely lady takes the lead in Black Book, but this time Paul Verhoeven has more than cheap thrills in mind. Towards the end of WWII, Rachel Stein (the vibrant Carice von Houten), a Jewish singer, is living with a gentile family in the countryside. When Allied forces bomb the area, she's forced to flee. On her perilous journey to The Hague (Verhoeven's hometown), brunette Rachel joins the Resistance and changes her identity to blonde Ellis de Vries. Her next order of business: infiltrate Gestapo headquarters. Like many Verhoeven heroines, Rachel aces her assignment--and then some. First, she seduces the handsome Captain M¸ntze (Sebastian Hoch, The Lives of Others), then she falls in love with him. M¸ntze, who returns her affection, isn't what he appears to be, but their relationship puts both at great risk. At this point, the filmmaker expertly kicks the proceedings into high gear, before concluding on a bittersweet note. Naturally, since this is a Verhoeven picture, there's plenty of wry humor and uninhibited sexuality along the way. Starting with 1985's Flesh + Blood, the Dutch director released an American movie every two to three years. After the poorly received Hollow Man, however, Verhoeven took a six-year break. Black Book, a return to his native Holland, was worth the wait. (He began work on the screenplay in the 1980s.) It works triple-time as a thriller, a tribute to Holland's Jewish population, and a poison pen letter to the Dutch opportunists who would attempt to sell them out.