‘Black Book’ movie review: a captivating return to form for Paul Verhoeven

Paul Verhoeven is back in grand fashion with Black Book, a wonderful film that combines the Dutch roots of his gritty early work with a refined Hollywood style.

Carice van Houten (in a star-making, tour-de-force performance) stars as Rachel Stein, a young Jewish girl hiding out in a rural farmhouse during German occupation of The Netherlands in WWII.

After her cover is blown, she attempts to flee the country; a Nazi ambush leaves her the sole survivor, and soon she finds herself working alongside Dutch resistance fighters.

But this is only the beginning of her story, which Verhoeven paints in an array of colors, showing us a sympathetic Nazi and atrocities committed after German forces have been expelled.

Entire cast is excellent, production flawless. A memorable, magnetic, exhilarating near-masterpiece that effortlessly plays with our emotions, continually surprising us at every turn.

But it´s only depressing to think that we may have lost one of our great talents to the Hollywood machine for years, to Hollow Man, Starship Troopers, and (shudder) Showgirls.

Also see: Bertrand Tavernier´s unfortunately overlooked Safe Conduct, a similar true-story epic about French filmmakers fighting for the resistance during WWII.


Jason Pirodsky

Jason Pirodsky

Jason Pirodsky has been writing about the Prague film scene and reviewing films in print and online media since 2005. A member of the Online Film Critics Society, you can also catch his musings on life in Prague at expats.cz and tips on mindfulness sourced from ancient principles at MaArtial.com.

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