Black Book is Verhoeven’s first new movie in six years, the studios apparently having grown tired of him. It’s a good thing they have. He’s taken a generally holy subject—Jewish resistance to the Nazis—and returned to Holland to make what is undeniably, perversely, lovably a Verhoeven movie. It stars the comely Carice van Houten, who would never be cast as Anne Frank in any decent production. She plays Rachel, initially shepherded from attic to farmhouse in the standard cinematic tradition. Soon enough, though, she’s dyeing her hair Aryan blond (yes, all of it) and shtupping for her supper, not unhappily. Nazis love her.
A filmmaker hamstrung by conventional morality would make Rachel suffer, and quick. While Verhoeven does eventually plunge his heroine into a world of shit—literally—he’s having too much fun sending her into harm’s way, always with a resourceful out. Let’s not ruin it and say he’s ended up with a survival film as “important” as Schindler’s List. Black Book is wittier, more romantic, more fun and perhaps even more useful.
Cast and crew
Derek De Lint
Dolf De Vries