Black Book

Director/writer Paul Verhoeven brought his European art-film sensibility to America with sly satires like RoboCop, Showgirls and Starship Troopers that played like standard big-budget blockbusters while making fun of the form. Now he’s taken his Hollywood sensibility back to Europe with Black Book, a very weird take on the 1940s war film. Using standard tropes from the genre, including swelling music, jump cuts and stagey acting, he presents a tale of moral and cinematic complexity that’s occasionally ridiculous and ultimately moving. Carice van Houten plays Rachel Stein, a Jewish woman who escapes the Nazis and joins the Dutch resistance. She becomes embroiled in a complex plot involving anti-Semitic resistance fighters, a gentle Nazi, frame-ups, identity switches and lots of nudity. It’s all very Verhoeven, and somewhat alienating, but you have to admire the intellect behind it.

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