BLACK BOOK: SUCCESSFUL WWII EPIC
Black Book is a movie of epic proportions, such as Dr. Zhivago. Its star Carice van Houten is a knockout. It is a dramatic story of a Jewish girl trying to survive WWII. Paul Verhoeven (Total Recall, Basic Instinct) is back in his native Holland.
Rachel Stein (Carice Van Houten) is a Jewish woman hiding out in Nazi occupied Holland. When her hiding place is bombed, she and her family are given the chance to cross into liberated territory. While trying to cross by water, their boat is attacked by Nazis and she is the only one to escape. She joins the Resistance and becomes Ellis de Vries. She becomes a spy and gets involved with Ludwig Muntze (Sebastian Koch), the head of The Gestapo. She unexpectedly falls in love with him. She has friends and enemies on both sides of the war and doesn’t know who to trust.
This is a period piece that was inspired by true events. There are twists and turns along the way. You don’t know what to expect. This has a great ensemble cast. Van Houten is amazing. She not only has acting chops but a great singing voice. Waldemar Kobus as the slovenly evil Gunther Franken makes your skin crawl. Verhoeven isn’t afraid of nudity. He made Sharon Stone’s vagina famous in Basic Instinct. He uses that same fearlessness in Black Book. It is refreshing. But the blood spilled in the movie is right out of a B movie, making it cheesy. The sets are period appropriate, with miniature scales being made for some. The wardrobe is true to the early 40s. Its female stars wear beautiful dresses, such as Van Houten when she sings.
Better use of makeup for the graphically violent scenes would have made more of an impact if it was more realistic and not so campy.
This is a sweeping historical film that will make you feel all emotions. Verhoeven films with feeling in his country. He doesn’t go for shock value as he has done previously. Here’s to Carice van Houten coming to the states. Her acting and signing ability would serve her well.