Plot: Rachel Steinn (Carice van Houten) is a beautiful Jewish woman living in Holland during the early days of World War II. When Axis forces take control of Holland, Rachel’s family are killed in a bombing raid while most of the city’s Jews are rounded up and sent to Nazi death camps. Rachel manages to narrowly avoid capture, and joins the local resistance movement. With her hair dyed blonde, Rachel can easily pass for a gentile, and when the leader of the Dutch resistance movement learns his son has been captured by Axis forces, Rachel is asked to use her feminine charms to persuade a German commander to arrange for the boy’s release. Rachel soon finds herself caught up in a dangerous double life as she becomes a sexual plaything for the Nazis while attempting to bring down their evil empire as a spy.
The minute I saw the trailer to Zwartboek, I already knew that I will love it because it’s about the other film genré I truly love, that of the world of espionage during World War II which continue to fascinate me. It’s a film made by Paul Verhoeven (Total Recall, Robocop, Starship Troopers, Basic Instinct) and is spoken in Dutch, it’s amazing that it didnt receive a nomination for Best Foreign Language film saying that neither did Apocalypto which is even most deserving. Anyway, I am getting off course now.
It’s Carice Van Houten’s brilliant portrayal of Rachel Steinn that is the heart and soul of this movie. She was not only beautiful, but she played the character convincingly well. Other noteworthy performances came from the gorgeous Sebastian Koch playing Gestapo Chief Ludwig Muntze and Thom Hoffman as Hans Akkermans, one of the leaders of the Resistance whom Steinn worked with. After having seen so many espionage films you might think I’d be able to guess who could of double-crossed who but not so in this film, it had a lot of surprises as you go along. It’s a bit long for 2 hours and 20 minutes but the only other complaint I have about the film that’s why I am not giving it a full 5 star rating is the way the flashback of the story was told. Let me know if you felt the same if you are planning to see it, although I highly recommend that you see it still because it is definitely one of the best films of 2006, and Verhoeven’s finest in many years.
Zwartboek aka Black Book: 4/5