In the darkest days of World War II, Jewish fugitives attempt to escape occupied Holland -- only to face a Nazi ambush. Rachel Stein (Carice van Houten) alone survives the attack and joins the Dutch Resistance to avenge her family. She soon confronts the ultimate test: she must infiltrate German headquarters by tempting Captain Ludwig Mÿntze (Sebastian Hoch). In the heat of passion, he uncovers her duplicity...but keeps her secret. Then Rachel's espionage reveals that a murderous traitor lurks within Resistance ranks. Unable to fully trust anyone, Rachel navigates a minefield of deception and becomes an enemy to both sides. Epic, passionate, breathtaking, Black Book relates an untold story of World War II where the distinctions between good and evil become blurred by the complexities of human nature.
As in Basic Instinct, a lovely lady takes the lead in Black Book, but this time Paul Verhoeven has more than cheap thrills in mind. Towards the end of WWII, Rachel Stein (the vibrant Carice von Houten), a Jewish singer, is living with a gentile family in the countryside. When Allied forces bomb the area, she's forced to flee. On her perilous journey to The Hague (Verhoeven's hometown), brunette Rachel joins the Resistance and changes her identity to blonde Ellis de Vries. Her next order of business: infiltrate Gestapo headquarters. Like many Verhoeven heroines, Rachel aces her assignment--and then some. First, she seduces the handsome Captain Müntze (Sebastian Koch, The Lives of Others), then she falls in love with him. Müntze, who returns her affection, isn't what he appears to be, but their relationship puts both at great risk. At this point, the filmmaker expertly kicks the proceedings into high gear, before concluding on a bittersweet note. Naturally, since this is a Verhoeven picture, there's plenty of wry humor and uninhibited sexuality along the way. Starting with 1985's Flesh + Blood, the Dutch director released an American movie every two to three years. After the poorly received Hollow Man, however, Verhoeven took a six-year break. Black Book, a return to his native Holland, was worth the wait. (He began work on the screenplay in the 1980s.) It works triple-time as a thriller, a tribute to Holland's Jewish population, and a poison pen letter to the Dutch opportunists who would attempt to sell them out. --Kathleen C. Fennessy