Saturday, February 23, 2008

Black Book (Zwartboek)

Black Book turned out quite different than I expected. It’s certainly grim in places – the Nazis in this film, save one, are cold, remorseless, and terribly efficient at what they do (unless, of course, they’re shooting at a character essential to the plot) – but what Paul Verhoeven has crafted here is as much a crime thriller as a war drama, and he wants the majority of your attention focused on the twists and turns of the plot, not the horrors of war. The message underneath (take from it what you will) is a bitter pill.

Getting the hell out of Hollywood was a wise move on Verhoeven’s part, and I wondered while watching Black Book what the hell happened to him after Total Recall that drove him to make films like Showgirls and Hollow Man. Black Book isn’t perfect: It’s a little too trashy at times to take seriously, and M√ľntze -- the Nazi that Rachel, the main character, seduces -- is never properly developed. I was unable to measure what kind of man he truly was or see what Rachel saw in him. But it’s cool to see that Verhoeven can still make a film of Black Book’s quality.

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