Black Book is a war drama based around the last couple of years of World War II. It follows the story of Jewish singer Rachel Stein (Carice van Houten) who becomes a spy for the Dutch resistance after being taken in to hide from German forces.
She is put in several compromising situations in order to keep her identity hidden and remain faithful to the agenda she has undertaken. Her charm and good looks allow her to be-friend high-ranking German official Ludwig Muntze (Sebastian Koch) with which a relationship is formed.
It is from here that the narrative extrudes twist after twist attempting to keep the audience at a whim over who is betraying who in the story. The film’s story is engaging enough to keep the viewer interested throughout, however at times does seem formulaic.
Paul Verhoeven (Robocop, Total Recall) directs a superb cast in this war drama and the production design is visually inspiring. Carice van Houten is excellent as the Jewish spy and Sebastian Koch equally impressive as the German Officer with a hint of empathy in his heart. The supporting cast are all fantastic in their roles, making the film’s topics of harsh survival in war-torn times all the more believable.
Black Book is a solid piece of work which keeps the audience entertained throughout the two-plus hours of film reel. It is at times chilling and others cheeky. It contains some graphic scenes which furthermore intensifies the film’s setting. Carice van Houten’s performance holds the film together as she is brought to face undermining scenarios on several occasions, but trudges on in the face of evil for the better good.
Overall Black Book is an entertaining film set in a time of Nazi oppression, with a spectacular cast and interesting screenplay, Verhoeven has a sleeper hit on his hands with Black Book.
Most actors speak more than one language in the film. Carice van Houten speaks four languages fluently in the course of the film: Hebrew in the scenes in Israel, German with Nazi soldiers, English with Canadian army personnel, and Dutch for the majority of the film.