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Black Book

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"Black Book" Movie Review from MoviePuls

by Joel Massie, on 9/29/2007

Paul Verhoeven finally returns to the epic and violent style of filmmaking that he perfected with films like Robocop and Soldier of Orange. Set in World War II, the Dutch director has plenty of open ground to create dastardly villains, tragic heroes and an ill-fated, sweeping romance. In Nazi-occupied Holland, young Jewish girl Rachel Stein (Carice van Houten) is forced into hiding. When her cover is blown she receives help from the Resistance and attempts to travel to liberated territory, but disastrous events find her stranded and alone. Joining up with another Resistance group led by Gerben Kuipers (Derek de Lint), Rachel assumes the name of Ellis de Vries and agrees to spy on Gestapo leader Ludwig Muntze (Sebastian Koch) in order to help plan an escape for several captured allies, including Kuipers’ son. Seducing Muntze and working her way into the compound, Ellis slowly uncovers a conspiracy that reveals no one can be trusted and nothing is what it seems. The hardest concept to bear in Black Book is the theme that the heroine Ellis cannot escape the atrocities of war. Told as a flashback, which hurts the film in that the audience is all too aware of Ellis's fate, Black Book ensures that tragedy is always looming over every character. As a Jewish girl in World War II, Ellis struggles to help those she believes deserve freedom, while seeking activities that will keep her too occupied to recount the loss of her family. She fights deceit from nearly everyone, hatred from her allies, and witnesses ultimate sacrifices by her people, and then as a spy infiltrating the Nazis she encounters equally negative treatment. Always in the wrong place at the wrong time, it is trying on the audience that Verhoeven continues to place her on the losing side. With few wins for the “good” guys, the tone of the film is continually depressing. A haunting tale of love, deception, and betrayal, Verhoeven’s Black Book mixes the horrors of war with the beauty of a condemned romance and the devastating struggle to survive in a world that has forsaken you. With an Oscar-worthy performance from Carice van Houten and a riveting journey not easily forgotten, Black Book is a must-see film from a seasoned director whose repertoire never ceases to amaze. - Read the full review at

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Product Overview

In the darkest days of world war II, a dutch resistance cell enlists a sexy spy to go undercover inside a nazi stronghold - where she discovers that the enemy is all too human.


Studio Sony
SKU 204966115
UPC 043396184954
UPC 14 00043396184954
Format DVD
Release Date 10/7/2008
Rating Rating
Aspect Ratio
Anamorphic Widescreen  2.35:1
Name Van Houten,Carice
Link Search Link
Cast & Crew
Anne Dudley - Original Music By
Carice van Houten - Actor
Gerard Soeteman - Writer
Graham Begg - Executive Producer
Halina Reijn - Actor
James Herbert - Editor
Jeroen Beker - Producer
Job ter Burg - Editor
Karl Walter Lindenlaub - Cinematographer
Paul Verhoeven - Writer
Paul Verhoeven - Director
Sebastian Koch - Actor
Thom Hoffman - Actor
Wilbert Van Dorp - Production Designer
Nominee (2007) British Academy Awards, Teun Hilte, et. al., Best Film not in the English Language
Winner (2006) Venice Film Festival, Paul Verhoeven, Young Cinema Award - Best International Film
Nominee (2006) Venice Film Festival, Paul Verhoeven, Golden Lion Award
ReviewSource ReelViews
Review For Black Book, a film [Paul Verhoeven] has been writing (on and off) for 20 years, he has returned to his roots. The result is a powerful and compelling World War II thriller that features note-perfect performances and an almost flawless screenplay. Verhoeven's sure hand, honed as a result of 15 years of big-budget features, gives Black Book a polished look that few American war movies can exceed. An element of controversy has shadowed Black Book because Verhoeven has the temerity to portray resistance fighters as less-than-heroic and one high ranking Nazi as a nice guy...This is one of the best war movies to emerge about World War II in the last ten years. It has everything a good war thriller should have: impeccable period detail, wonderful performances, action, romance, tragedy, and heart-stopping suspense. Black Book offers the best of both worlds: Hollywood spectacle and European sensibilities. It's 145 minutes well spent.
Reviewer James Berardinelli
ReviewRating 9
Review Movies can be great for so many different and varied reasons that it's rare to find one that succeeds on just about every level: as high art and pulp entertainment, and as both a bold sweeping epic and a quiet character study. Citizen Kane comes to mind, as well as the first two Godfather films and Goodfellas. And now we have Paul Verhoeven's violent, romantic, challenging, and monumentally enjoyable WWII adventure Black Book, a masterpiece that sums up the preoccupations of the filmmaker's previous work and takes them to a whole new level of ambition. The closest we have to a modern-day Hitchcock in terms of his ability to smuggle deeply personal psychological and sexual obsessions into mainstream popcorn flicks, Verhoeven has returned to his native Netherlands after decades in Hollywood and made one of the best films of his career...Black Book stakes its claim as an unadulterated modern-day classic.
Reviewer Jim Hemphill
ReviewRating 10
DVD, Widescreen, Aspect Ratio 2.35:1, Dolby Digital (5.1), English, French, Spanish, Subtitled
Product Attributes
Actor Van Houten,Carice
Label Columbia/tri-Star
Music Format DVD
Video Format DVD
Glenn Kenny, Premiere ...Verhoeven's best film since "RoboCop": audacious, smart, shamelessly entertaining.
Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader its dark moral complexities it puts "Schindler's List" to exceptional cast.
Peter Travers, Rolling Stone Provocative and potently erotic! There's not a dull second in it!
Ray Bennett, The Hollywood Reporter ...a high-octane adventure rooted in fact with a raft of arresting characters, big action sequences and twists and turns galore.
William Arnold, Seattle Post-Intelligencer A highly original and progressively riveting personal adventure.

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"Black Book" Movie Review from MoviePuls by Joel Massie, on Sep 29, 2007