Black Book (2006)

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Paul Verhoeven directs Carice van Houten, Sebastian Koch and Thom Hoffman in this wartime thriller about Jewish refugee who joins the Dutch resistance to find who sold her family out to the Nazis for profit. 

Verehoven Week continues (And what a week it has been!) with his late in the day comeback from Hollywood ennui. An utterly gripping period espionage thriller where no one can be trusted. Verehoven uses his morally bankrupt eye to keep it all incredibly taut (if anything the movie surpringly moves up another gripping notch once all scores seem settled and peacetime comes. Suddenly everyone; Nazi, spy, profiteer – is scrabbling for the final upper hand in some brilliantly grim set pieces) and marries the period detail with his usual love of blood, fucking and profanity convincingly. Carice van Houten is incendiary as the innocent who uses her burgeoning wile and sexual guile to bring all her betrayers to justice. Every scene from bedsheets to train journey to toilet break, she conveys heady risk and keen strategy to survive, while always keeping her humanity and internalised disgust at who she has to rub shoulders with bottled up. Based on her trailblazing breakout role here, she’s been really wasted as the pagan T&A in Game of Thrones. Koch is also impressive as the good German she falls for. This stands out as the first Verehoeven film since Robocop where you get the feeling he sees his characters as humans rather than avatars, constructs he has some affection for, rather than pieces to throw into chaos for satirical and bellicose ends. It makes for a more rewardingly mature cinematic experience.

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