Black Book 2006 ***


Paul Verhoeven’s return to his native Holland in 2006 after his adventures in Hollywood is a feisty war film, reuniting him with regular scribe Gerard Soeteman. Carice van Houten gives a great performance as Rachel, a Jewish singer who is used by the Dutch resistance to charm her way into the Gestapo during WWII. Her ability to charm men is exploited by both sides, and her self-disgust is realised in an extraordinary scene in which she’s buried in excrement. Verhoeven has never been coy about sex (Basic Instinct), and while most stories about heroism skip the details of the dangerous games played, Black Books gets straight to the point, with Rachel’s ability to seduce a central point in the narrative.  A war movie with balls, Black Books is a powerful film about male-female exploitation, and a stirring war drama to boot.


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