Reviewer’s grade: B
Nothing much new presents itself for thought or emotional response in Paul Verhoeven’s melodramatic “Black Book,” but the film pulls viewers along with its unremitting forward action and series of character twists. Starring a skilled group of Dutch and German actors, the film tells the story of a Jewish woman in the Netherlands during the Nazi occupation.
Rachel Stein (Carice van Houten) becomes Ellis de Vries, a blonde Christian working at Nazi headquarters as a spy for the Dutch Resistance. Sebastian Koch, who recently starred in “The Lives of Others” as a playwright working in the East German Resistance against Communism, is here the occupier rather than the occupied. He’s really good in the role of a complex SS officer with whom Ellis/Rachel has a relationship.
All the other actors are competent, if not stellar. The film is fairly predictable in exploring the surprises people deal us in unexpected kindness and unexpected greed and other all-too-human flaws, but it’s still worth seeing. R
“Kathryn Jenson White