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Thursday, May 3, 2007

Black Book

Posted on Thu, May 3, 2007 at 4:00 AM

*****
Black Book
Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
Rated: R
Cast: Carice Van Houten, Sebastian Koch
Director: Paul Verhoeven
WorkNameSort: Black Book
Our Rating: 5.00
Paul Verhoeven's first film in six years is definitely worth the wait. Arguably the most mature movie of the cult-action stylist's career, Black Book is the inverse of a typical Verhoeven picture. If films like Starship Troopers and Robocop find the art in schlock, here he takes a conventionally high-art setting ' Nazi persecution in World War II ' and, literally, dumps shit all over it, crafting a pulpy noir rife with tawdry elements. And he does it all without reducing the story's sweeping substance to ironic camp. Carice van Houten is stirring and sensual as Ellis, a woman who escapes her certain death at the hands of a Nazi swindler only to find more distrust in a group of underground resistance fighters. There are boobs and blood galore, but this is in a different cinematic hemisphere than the derisive pleasures of Total Recall and Showgirls. Verhoeven has pulled off a feat many auteurs seek but few accomplish: He's made a film that is both utterly accessible and wholly personal, sensationalistic enough for his die-hard fans and prestigious enough for the Lives of Others crowd.

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