Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Black Book (Zwartboek)

The Black Book is the best movie of the year.... of 2006. I know I'm a little late in stating that, but surely it's better than Crash (even though Black Book wasn't American-made).

In 1956 In Israel, Rachel unexpectedly meets an old friend at a kibbutz she's working at as a teacher. The chance meeting brings back memories of her escapades in World War II.

A young Jewish girl (Rachel, played by actress Carice van Houten) is hiding from the Nazis in the Netherlands. After her hiding place is blown away, she escapes with a young sailor, and, upon sailing away, end up working for the resistance. Most of the film deals with Rachel's change to alias "Ellis," and her romantic dealings with an SS official from whom she gets information to aid the cause.

This movie is engrossing from the first minute until the last during its lengthy two-and-a-half hours. I only found it because a local movie reviewer was talking about the latest Paul Verhoeven film. Verhoeven directed some of my favorite films, RoboCop and Starship Troopers, very capable with special effects but not willing to sacrifice the story. I heard that The Black Book was a totally different film for him, and a rather personal one.

Van Houten is a miracle to watch, and I predict a huge career for her. The movie allows Van Houten to show off her acting abilities in different facets of the same character. And the film gives us a picture of what Holland-occupied life must've been like back then, and shows us the victims and those who refused to be victims.

This is the kind of rarely encountered film where you don't quite know what to expect next. That person over there may not be who or what they seem, and you can't automatically assume where loyalties lie. The well-written screenplay is like a snail's shell, and you find yourself entering the cavern not knowing how it will twist and turn. Spellbinding it certainly is. And definitely haunting.

Thumb's up.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home