Black Book (2006)

Black Book (2006)

Paul Verhoeven returns to his native Netherlands through this familiar espionage romance thriller

7.0

Movie

Austria, Belgium
Dutch, English, German
Drama, Thriller, War
2006
PAUL VERHOEVEN
Bert Luppes, Carice van Houten, Christian Berkel
145 min

TLDR

Melisandre can sing?!

What it's about

Netherlands, World War II. After the Nazis occupied the country, Jewish agent Rachel Stein is assigned a new identity as Dutch singer Ellis de Vries in order to seduce Gestapo captain Ludwig Müntze.

The take

Of course, with wartime spy romances, it’s expected to have conflicted desire, twisty betrayals, and the internal war between personal love and national duty. Black Book delivers this in spades, infusing the drama with writer-director Paul Verhoeven’s propensity for sex and violence, which he brings back to his homeland after two decades apart. The drama is well-made, especially with the talented Carice van Houten as a survival-first composite spy character inspired by several resistance members, but the familiar plot, the melodrama, and the pacing can make the 2 and a half hour runtime feel a bit tedious for some viewers. Still, for fans of the genre, Black Book isn’t a terrible choice to watch.

What stands out

Before preaching about the Lord of Light as Melisandre in Game of Thrones, Carice van Houten made her breakthrough as Rachel Stein here, and her charisma makes it instantly clear how she ended up becoming a star.

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