The Black Book

Of all the movies I watched in the past two weeks (and I'm embarrassed to admit how many there have been), this was by far the BEST!

Paul Verhoeven ("Soldier of Orange," "Robocop" and "Starship Troopers") has gone back home to the Netherlands and crafted this wonderful story of love, betrayal, desperation and survival. It takes place during the final days of WWII with Holland still occupied and still resisting. You are the unwilling witness to a brutal massacre of Jewish fugitives with one lone survivor hiding in the reeds until she can creep out and devise some means to survive.

When we thought back and considered all the plots, people and ploys involved, it was nothing short of a miracle that Verhoeven was able to craft a script that was crystal clear, absolutely involving, and with wrenching parts that were truly wrenching. You are never confused; with captions, all the dialog is clear; each character is individuated so there is no wondering, "Now which one is this?"

The production design is flawless, a war-torn Holland, authentic street scenes, period clothing and vehicles, etc., a true sense of a place occupied by loyal Gestapo troops, who are painfully aware that Germany is losing the war.

The actress who plays the lead is riveting. Other performers are also unfamiliar with the one minor (but to me, MAJOR) exception of one of the Gestapo officers, who is played by that handsome fellow who was the actor under surveillance in "The Lives of Others." There isn't a weak performance; every scene and every bit of dialog is vital to the plot. One small warning, as the Jewish gal is preparing to pose as a blonde Dutch cabaret singer, she even bleaches her pubic hairs! Be forewarned... It is a brief scene and necessary to the plot.

See it!