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Black Book

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Black Book

type:
Movie
Current Status:
In Season
mpaa:
R
runtime:
145 minutes
Limited Release Date:
04/06/07
performer:
Sebastian Koch, Carice van Houten
director:
Paul Verhoeven
distributor:
Sony Pictures Classics
author:
Gerard Soeteman, Paul Verhoeven
genre:
Mystery and Thriller, War

We gave it a B-

Best known for violent sci-fi (RoboCop) and extravagant erotica (Basic Instinct), Paul Verhoeven seems an unlikely director to tackle a serious World War II thriller. But in Black Book, the filmmaker draws on his memories of growing up in Nazi-occupied Holland to tell the story of an undercover Jewish singer (Carice van Houten) who falls in love with the German officer (The Lives of Others‘ Sebastian Koch) she has been assigned by the resistance to seduce. Never mind the subtitles: Verhoeven movies need no translation, and even this dark tale of greed and betrayal is decorated with his signature dollops of risqué titillation. Verhoeven’s enthusiastic commentary illuminates the history that inspired the film, and defends the salaciousness he can’t resist. Of the scene in which the heroine bleaches her pubic hair: ”You could say, ‘Okay, do you have to show that?”’ he says. ”Well, I do…. I felt a necessity to show that plot point.” If only he’d applied such detailed attention to the byzantine script, which even Verhoeven admits breeds confusion. Personally, I’m still trying to comprehend body hair as a ”plot point.” B-

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