In 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’t 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!
The trailer below is in Dutch, but it gives you an idea of its imagery!