A Jewish woman in Nazi-occupied Holland spies for the Resistance.
Director Paul Verhoeven, usually eager to shock, plays it straight with this historical drama, said Stephen Witty in the Newark, N.J., Star-Ledger. For American movie fans, learning that the man behind Basic Instinct and Showgirls has tackled a tale of Nazi-occupied Holland may be akin to 'œhearing that the 'Girls Gone Wild' guy was filming a biopic of Gloria Steinem.' But the Dutch Verhoeven, who won acclaim in his home country before heading to Hollywood, actually is returning to his roots. Alluring newcomer Carice van Houten plays Rachel, a young Jewish woman who, after she witnesses her family's slaughter, enlists in the Resistance. Sent to spy on a Nazi officer, played by the equally enticing Sebastian Koch, she instead falls for him. This is an 'œaudacious, smart, shamelessly entertaining' outing, said Glenn Kenny in Premiere.com. Of course, the director has not abandoned his prurient ways altogether. In one 'œvintage Verhoeven' scene, the dusky Rachel dyes 'œall of her hair' blonde to more effectively fool any Nazi who happens to get into her skirt. Black Book is best appreciated as 'œthe pulpiest of fiction, not a historical gloss,' said Manohla Dargis in The New York Times. Taken as a serious meditation on the risks and sacrifices made by women during wartime, Verhoeven's film is laughable. Seen as a costumed variation of the director's typical mix of 'œfrenzied sex and violence,' however, Black Book is 'œpretty much a hoot.'