Director Paul Verhoeven is a complicated man, whose interests include violence, sex, robots, dismemberment, breasts, violence, explosions, resurrection imagery, and breasts; a set that broadly mirrors my own . So of course I have been a fan of Verhoeven's films ever since Robocop.
Black Book is a WWII resistance movie about a Jewish woman in Nazi occupied Holland who becomes a resistance spy by seducing the local Nazi commander. However, nothing is quite what it seems and she faces betrayal from all sides as the Allies draw closer and the Nazis get more desperate.
A Nazi and a smoker? This guy is obviously a bad egg!
The film has a kind of gritty beauty about it and the recreation of The Hague during war time is very well done. Like Verhoeven's other films, even the good guys have serious flaws and some of the Nazis are more than the slavering monsters they are usually portrayed as.
Unfortunately the Black Book is let down by a few unbelievable plot contrivances and Verhoeven's trademark lack of subtlety. One character screwing down a coffin lid using a locket containing pictures of her dead family was a particularly eye-roll-inducing example. Another is the nigh-mandatory comment on the current American War on Terrortm but since that is mostly deserved so I am prepared to let it slide. Having said that, Black Book is still a "serious" film, nowhere near as over the top as the director's Hollywood productions.