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Zwartboek (Black Book) (2006)

zwartboek-posterIn the Nazi-occupied Netherlands during World War II, a Jewish singer infiltrates the regional Gestapo headquarters for the Dutch resistance.

Paul Verhoeven is a name that gets mentioned often amongst people who carry a torch for good movies. Ofcourse, being a Dutchy myself, I know his body of work well, since he’s pretty much the only Dutch director that became succesful in the promised land called Hollywood.
But I still get a smile when I hear people from abroad mentioning him. They love ‘Robocop’ or ‘Basic Instinct’ and let’s not forget the culthit ‘Total Recall’.

So for you non Dutchies: Remember his great line of work when I recommend you to watch one of his newer movies that’s made in Holland.

Zwartboek (or Black Book) is a movie about a singer, a Jewish singer to be exact, played by Holland’s latest export product: Carice van Houten (Game of Thrones). A little sidenote on her: Carice is a big name in Holland, having played the lead in pretty much every big Dutch movie since 2007.
In ‘Zwartboek’ she took the opportunity to use it as a international showcase for her talent, because whether or not you’re Dutch, you can tell she has loads of it.

The story about a nazi-occupied Holland has a wide enough scope to be enjoyed by people who don’tl_389557_52038c69 stem from this region of the world. What makes this stand out amongst the legion of World War II movies is the fact that it’s really a character piece that’s largely focussed on the Dutch resistance.
As our heroin Rachel Stein loses her hide-out place and gets recruited by them, we witness first hand how
it was like to be part of a group of people who faced immense resistance from a ruthless army.

Verhoeven shows us why he is still the best Dutch director alive, creating at times a very grand and epic scope, with great performances from a slew of well and lesser known Dutch actors. The Germans are played by German actors and amongst them is Sebastian Koch (The Life of Others). He plays a Gestapo leader who has a crush on Rachel. Their relationship is the main focus for a big part of the movie, and their chemistry is obvious from the start. (leading to a real life romance as well)

Verhoeven creates a intriguing plot by the moral choices that Rachel has to face in her role as a resistance fighter.
I can’t go into more detail without spoiling a large part of the movie, so I won’t.
Know that this is one of the best things that Holland has to offer in terms of movies.

Unfortunately, ‘Zwartboek’, even though it was a huge and critical success, will never have a big audience that a shitty movie like ‘Norbit’ has had. I urge you to ignore the fact that this is a foreign language spoken movie for most of our readers. Give this a shot, it’s vintage Verhoeven and it deserves your time!

8/10 stars!
The trailer below is in Dutch, but it gives you an idea of its imagery!



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