Movies Books Music Food Tv Shows Technology Politics Video Games Parenting Fashion Green Living more >

Lunch » Tags » Movies » Reviews » Black Book » User review

Black Book

Art House & International movie directed by Paul Verhoeven

< read all 4 reviews

Not 'Schindler's...' But a Very Worthy '...Book'

  • Jan 1, 2008
  • by
The Netherland's `Black Book' has many attributes on its "list". Glossy cinematography, excellent acting, and fine direction lead a movie with the look and feel of a classic. The best thing about the film, though, is its distinctive story. "Inspired by true events," director Paul Verhoeven gives us a unique survivor tale during The Holocaust.

Like many survivors, singer Rachel Stein (Carice van Houten), flees the Gestapo by ferry with her companions. While many are brutally shot and killed, she manages to survive. With little time to conceal herself, she changes her identity to avert death. Thinly and vulnerably hidden, she has an affair with a top Gestapo agent (Sebastian Koch) in (then called) Holland while keeping her ties to an underground resistance movement. Moving tip-toe with her comrades, she experiences a horrible juggling act that entails too much deception to keep her safe on either side.

While I thought that the story and execution were totally absorbing, and van Houten's performance is enough to give Marion Cotillard ('La Vie en Rose`) a run for her money as best foreign actress, some of the tension lacks the worthiness of the tale. When Rachel plants a bugging device in The Gestapo office, I didn't feel the same nerve-wracking ambience of movies such as `Schindler's List' or `Army of Shadows,' (another Nazi resistance movie also based on true stories). Also, the made-for-TV score didn't give the movie the emotional backdrop it deserved.

Despite a couple of flaws, 'Black Book' is a very worthy movie to put on your "list".

What did you think of this review?

Fun to Read
Post a Comment
More Black Book reviews
review by . October 05, 2009
"The Black Book"    Hiding in Plain Sight    Amos Lassen    What a wonderful gripping drama this is. "The Black Book" reminds us of how good movies can be. It starts in 1956 and we meet Rachel Stein (Carice von Houten), an Israeli citizen teaching school on a kibbutz when she meets an old friend who is on vacation with her husband. That meeting brings back all of the painful memories she had tried to erase. We then travel backwards to 1944 …
review by . October 10, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
I won't reiterate the plot here since other reviews have described the film in sufficient detail, but merely want to make a point about Verhoeven's work, that this film in particular helped me see. While "Black Book" may seem a far cry from Total Recall, Robocop, Basic Instinct, Showgirls and Starship Troopers (some of Verhoeven's best known Hollywood films) it shares with each of these films Verhoeven's keen insight into what makes a genre film tick and his perverse delight in undercutting and …
review by . September 27, 2007
Just when we think we have read about or seen all of the stories there are to tell about courageous heroes/heroines who sacrificed much for the sake of many during World War II, along comes BLACK BOOK (ZWARTBOEK) with another dramatic 'biography' of a significant figure. Director Paul Verhoeven (Basic Instinct, Spetters, Total Recall) is a much admired Dutch artist who is able to draw his audience into another world so real that it literally feels as though we are part of the process. And that is …
About the reviewer
John L. Peterson ()
Ranked #99
I am a substitute teacher who enjoysonline reviewing. Skiing is my favorite pastime; weight training and health are my obsessions;and music and movies feed my psyche. Books are a treasure and a pleasure … more
Consider the Source

Use Trust Points to see how much you can rely on this review.

Your ratings:
rate more to improve this
About this movie


As inBasic Instinct, a lovely lady takes the lead inBlack Book, but this time Paul Verhoeven has more than cheap thrills in mind. Towards the end of WWII, Rachel Stein (the vibrant Carice von Houten), a Jewish singer, is living with a gentile family in the countryside. When Allied forces bomb the area, she's forced to flee. On her perilous journey to The Hague (Verhoeven's hometown), brunette Rachel joins the Resistance and changes her identity to blonde Ellis de Vries. Her next order of business: infiltrate Gestapo headquarters. Like many Verhoeven heroines, Rachel aces her assignment--and then some. First, she seduces the handsome Captain Müntze (Sebastian Koch,The Lives of Others), then she falls in love with him. Müntze, who returns her affection, isn't what he appears to be, but their relationship puts both at great risk. At this point, the filmmaker expertly kicks the proceedings into high gear, before concluding on a bittersweet note. Naturally, since this is a Verhoeven picture, there's plenty of wry humor and uninhibited sexuality along the way. Starting with 1985'sFlesh + Blood, the Dutch director released an American movie every two to three years. After the poorly receivedHollow Man, however, Verhoeven took a six-year break.Black Book, a return to his native Holland, was worth the wait. (He began work on the screenplay in the 1980s.) It works triple-time as a thriller, a tribute to Holland's Jewish population, and a poison pen letter to the Dutch ...
view wiki


Director: Paul Verhoeven
Genre: Foreign
DVD Release Date: September 25, 2007
Runtime: 145 minutes
Studio: Sony Pictures
First to Review
© 2015 Lunch.com, LLC All Rights Reserved
Lunch.com - Relevant reviews by real people.
This is you!
Ranked #
Last login
Member since