Feature

Black Book

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.'

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