HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Human Voice, The
Guns Akimbo
Being a Human Person
Giants and Toys
Millionaires Express
Bringing Up Baby
World to Come, The
Air Conditioner
Fear and Loathing in Aspen
Kandisha
Riders of Justice
Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki, The
For Those Who Think Young
Justice League: War
Fuzzy Pink Nightgown, The
Plurality
Scooby-Doo! Moon Monster Madness
Night of the Sharks
Werewolves Within
Honeymoon
King and Four Queens, The
Stray Dolls
Diana's Wedding
Deerskin
Toll, The
Two of Us
Nowhere Special
Rainbow Jacket, The
Crazy Samurai: 400 vs 1
First Cow
Undiscovered Tomb
Being Frank
Occupation: Rainfall
Jeanette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc
Pariah
Weapon, The
Godzilla vs. Kong
Love and Monsters
Tove
Young Wives' Tale
   
 
Newest Articles
A Monument to All the Bullshit in the World: 1970s Disaster Movies
Take Care with Peanuts: Interview with Melissa Menta (SVP of Marketing)
Silent is Golden: Futtocks End... and Other Short Stories on Blu-ray
Winner on Losers: West 11 on Blu-ray
Freewheelin' - Bob Dylan: Odds and Ends on Digital
Never Sleep: The Night of the Hunter on Blu-ray
Sherlock vs Ripper: Murder by Decree on Blu-ray
That Ol' Black Magic: Encounter of the Spooky Kind on Blu-ray
She's Evil! She's Brilliant! Basic Instinct on Blu-ray
Hong Kong Dreamin': World of Wong Kar Wai on Blu-ray
Buckle Your Swash: The Devil-Ship Pirates on Blu-ray
Way of the Exploding Fist: One Armed Boxer on Blu-ray
A Lot of Growing Up to Do: Fast Times at Ridgemont High on Blu-ray
Oh My Godard: Masculin Feminin on Blu-ray
Let Us Play: Play for Today Volume 2 on Blu-ray
Before The Matrix, There was Johnny Mnemonic: on Digital
More Than Mad Science: Karloff at Columbia on Blu-ray
Indian Summer: The Darjeeling Limited on Blu-ray
3 from 1950s Hollyweird: Dr. T, Mankind and Plan 9
Meiko Kaji's Girl Gangs: Stray Cat Rock on Arrow
Having a Wild Weekend: Catch Us If You Can on Blu-ray
The Drifters: Star Lucie Bourdeu Interview
Meiko Kaji Behind Bars: Female Prisoner Scorpion on Arrow
The Horror of the Soviets: Viy on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Tarka the Otter and The Belstone Fox
   
 
  Black Book Dutch Courage
Year: 2006
Director: Paul Verhoeven
Stars: Carice van Houten, Sebastian Koch, Thom Hoffman, Halina Reijn, Waldemar Kobus, Derek de Lint, Christian Berkel, Dolf de Vries, Peter Blok, Michiel Huisman, Ronald Armbrust, Frank Lammers, Matthias Schoenaerts, Johnny de Mol, Xander Straat, Nolan Hemmings
Genre: War, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: A kibbutz in Israel, 1956, and a group of tourists arrive to take a look around; one of them hears children singing and peeks through the window of a schoolroom to snap a photograph. The teacher, Rachel (Carice van Houten), stops the singing and asks her not to, then to her surprise she recognises the tourist as someone she knew during the Second World War in Holland. They chat for a while, but after she leaves, Rachel remembers her time in Holland with mixed feelings, for throughout the conflict until 1944 she was a Jewish woman living in hiding with a Christian family who made her memorise parts of The Bible in return for her bed and board. That was how she passed her days, and was sunbathing by the lake in shelter of some reeds when she was surprised by a man sailing a yacht towards her. Getting over her shock proved difficult when this was followed by a damaged bomber in the sky dropping its load to keep aloft and destroying the farmhouse in the process - Rachel was now on the run...

At the time Black Book, or Zwartboek as it was originally known, was released it was the most expensive Dutch film ever made, and all the money was up there on the screen in a vivid recreation of the period. After making Hollow Man and being unsatisfied with the results, director Paul Verhoeven left Hollywood behind to return to the Netherlands and it took him quite some years to get this project off the ground, especially as the script, written with Gerard Soeteman, had taken a couple of decades to perfect. Yet it was worth the wait, as the result was a headlong plunge into adventure that took care not to gloss over the less admirable aspects of wartime, on both sides of the fighting.

Van Houten's lead character is certainly put through her trials, but endearingly Verhoeven and Soeteman are never in any doubt as to her heroism, even if her fellow characters are. At first, she hooks up with her family for the first time in ages with the promise of escaping to safety in Belgium, but it all goes horribly wrong on a riverboat with many other Jewish refugees when they are ambushed by the Nazis and all but Rachel are murdered. She dives into the water to get away, and is forced to join the Dutch Resistance to survive, dyeing her dark hair blonde (above and below) and changing her name to Ellis as a disguise while getting in deeper with supposed doctor Hans Akkermans (Thom Hoffman), although everyone keeps their true identities secret from one another in case they are captured.

When three of them are indeed captured, Rachel, who has become quite the glamourpuss, goes undercover at the local Gestapo headquarters working as secretary to and becoming the lover of officer Ludwig M√ľntze (Sebastian Koch), who, in typical Verhoeven form, is a more sympathetic German than some of the Resistance fighters are sympathetic Dutch. The filmmakers' refusal to shy away from controversy makes the drama more vital, and enhances the thrill sequences of which there are many. There are still vile Nazis around, and they manage to turn Rachel's committed work in infiltrating them around so she becomes, mistakenly, a villain to the Resistance as well. Exhilarating as all this is, there's still the feeling that this is somehow a romp through World War II, and while the excellent van Houten gives us someone to cheer for, the surface gloss never puts you in any doubt that she'll make it out alive. The final image is still powerful, a reminder that war didn't end with the Second World one and the appetite for destruction continues unabated. Music by Anne Dudley.

[Tartan's Region 2 DVD has an interview with Verhoeven and another with van Houten as extras, along with a trailer.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 4546 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Paul Verhoeven  (1938 - )

Dutch director who is no stranger to controversy. He became famous in his homeland for violent, sexually frank films such as Turkish Delight, Soldier of Orange (a fine war epic), Spetters and The Fourth Man, after which he moved to Hollywood.

His first American movie, Flesh + Blood, showed he meant to continue as he started, and he was rewarded with the huge hit RoboCop. This began a line of lurid science fiction adventures such as Total Recall, Starship Troopers and Hollow Man, but his sexually-themed Basic Instinct and Showgirls were equally uncompromising.

Verhoeven's sharp sense of humour tempers his over-the-top style, but he frequently sails too close to being ridiculous for many to take him seriously. The war drama Black Book, filmed in his native Holland, raised his standing once more, and his black comedy thriller Elle won great acclaim for star Isabelle Huppert.

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf
   

 

Last Updated: