Black Book

2007

Black Book

Critics Consensus

A furious mix of sex, violence, and moral relativism, Black Book is shamelessly entertaining melodrama.

75%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 155

87%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 37,457
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Black Book Photos

Movie Info

"Black Book" tells the moving story of a young Jewish woman who joins the Resistance in The Hague and gets entangled in a deadly web of double-dealing and betrayal. It is is an epic thriller of great courage and fierce emotion--played out against the dying, explosive months of WW II.

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Cast

Carice van Houten
as Rachel Stein/Ellis De Vries
Sebastian Koch
as Ludwig Muntze
Thom Hoffman
as Hans Akkermans
Derek de Lint
as Gerben Kuipers
Waldemar Kobus
as Gunther Franken
Christian Berkel
as General Kautner
Peter Blok
as Van Gein
Ronald Armbrust
as Tim Kuipers
Marisa van Eyle
as Mrs. Tsjepkema
Heleen Mineur
as Steinte Tsjepkema
Timothy Deenihan
as Canadian Colonel
Nolan Hemmings
as Captain British Intelligence
Diana Dobbleman
as Mrs. Smaal
Ronald de Bruin
as Dutch SD in Train No. 1
Maiko Kemper
as Siegfried
Carsten Sasse
as German Sentry
Liza de Weerd
as Receptionist
Bas van der Horst
as Jantje Tsjepkema
Willem de Wolf
as Property Man
Oded Menashe
as Husband of Rachel Rosenthal-Stein
Gabriela Lewis
as Tour Guide
Rian Gerritsen
as Drunken Woman in Prison No. 1
Susan Visser
as Drunken Woman in Prison No. 2
Roni Yedid
as Daughter of Rachel Rosenthal-Stein
Dolf de Vries
as Notary Smaal
Skip Goeree
as Ronnie's Husband
Heleen Minuer
as Steinte Tsjepkema
Foeke Kolff
as Tsjepkema Child
Jobst Schnibbe
as Driver Muntze
Merel van Houts
as Tsjepkema Child
Charlotte Rinnooy Kan
as Tsjepkema Child
Jack Vecht
as Mr. Stein
Maaike Kempeneers
as Tsjepkema Child
Janni Goslinga
as Lady in Fur Coat
Wimie Wilhelm
as Female Prison Guard
Diana Dobbelman
as Mrs. Smaal
Theo Maassen
as Prison Guard With Baret
Tjebbo Gerritsma
as Prison Guard With Accordion
Seth Kamphuijs
as Brother Max
Herman Boerman
as Skipper Willi
Garrick Hagon
as British General
Bert Luppes
as Mr. Tsjepkema
Jacqueline Blom
as Mrs. Stein
Menno van Beekum
as Dutch SD in Train # 2
Hugo Metsers
as Shock Trooper
Tomer Agami
as Son of Rachel Rosenthal-Stein
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News & Interviews for Black Book

Critic Reviews for Black Book

All Critics (155) | Top Critics (44)

  • A hard-core war film with raw violence, intense action, graphic sexuality and a twisting plot that offers a series of surprises.

    Sep 1, 2007 | Rating: 3.5/4

    Claudia Puig

    USA Today
    Top Critic
  • Verhoeven never loses sight of the larger message -- that in those evil times, ordinary people were forced to do extraordinary, and even awful, things just to live long enough to tell their tale.

    May 4, 2007 | Rating: 4/5
  • Paul Verhoeven's WWII drama stars the lovely Dutch actress Carice van Houten as a Jewish Resistance worker, and costars her breasts. All three deserve awards consideration.

    Apr 30, 2007
  • The happy ending demands that [Verhoeven's] return-journey film -- Black Book -- be a rousing artistic triumph. It isn't. Too many of his lazy Hollywood habits have followed him home.

    Apr 27, 2007 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…
  • Insanely entertaining -- and often just plain insane -- World War II melodrama. You may hate yourself in the morning, but you'll have to admit Verhoeven gives you a lot of bang for your buck.

    Apr 27, 2007 | Rating: B+
  • Black Book doesn't let the grim facts of the Holocaust get in the way of some ripping pulp.

    Apr 27, 2007 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Black Book

  • Jul 18, 2014
    Paul Verhoeven has made some tremendous Science Fiction action films such as Robocop, Total Recall and Starship Troopers. With Black Book he does a significant departure from that genre, and directs quite possibly one of his most powerful films. This is a standout drama, a breath of fresh air from a director who has always seemed to make action films and Sci Fi films. If y6ou enjoy Verhoeven's work, but want something quite different, then Black Book i8s a great choice. Set during the Second World War, and follows the Dutch resistance as they infiltrate the local Gestapo headquarters, Black Book is a fine mix of drama and thrills and has enough twists to keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. This is a superbly acted film, and captivating and highly entertaining from start to finish. Black Book is a fine drama that is steadily paced, and it's a well layered film that doesn't have a single dull moment. Overall, it's a powerful picture, one that will stick with you long after you've seen it, and warrants multiple viewings as well. Verhoeven crafts something quite unique here, and it is a riveting drama, one of his finest yet, and considering that his last great movie was Basic Instinct (Starship Troopers was good, but it didn't compare to other previous works directed by Paul Verhoeven), Black Book is a richly detailed film, one that you can get thoroughly involved in, as it will leave you guessing into a tightly woven web of thrills. I would easily put this picture as one of Verhoeven's best, and it's a film that never ceases to amaze.
    Alex r Super Reviewer
  • Dec 20, 2013
    At first glance its a straightforward WWII espionage thriller, but there's a far more complex and jaded view of morality lurking below its surface, like how the antisemitism of the Nazis in the film isn't that different from that of the regular European population. All of this falls right in line with what Verhoeven explores in most of his film about the roots of fascism in society . . . except that this time he's working with the legacy of real history, which makes what he's saying all the more terrifying.
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • Jul 21, 2013
    From the director of "RoboCop", "Total Recall", "Basic Instinct", "Starship Troopers" and "Hollow Man" comes a new hardcore thrill ride of juicy intrigue... I think. I don't know about you, but it seems like Paul Verhoeven is getting a little bit carried away with his artistic license with this film, because, come on, Paul, as much as we're glad about your returning home to the Netherlands, two-and-a-half hours of you calling all of the names in your little black book seems to be a bit too experimental. Actually, jokes about this film's artistic integrity aside, this is yet another Paul Verhoeven thriller about a woman exploiting her sex appeal to get men killed, it's just that there's a bit more tastefulness to this film than your usual film by Verhoeven. Well, I guess it's safe to say that with "Basic Instinct 3: I Did Nazi This Coming", this delightful saga about the killing of some guys who were just hoping for a nice night with a hot lady has returned to form, because this is the supposed to be the most commercially successful and renowned Dutch film of all time... which isn't really saying much. I love how this was supposed the most expensive Dutch film ever upon its release, and it's also the most inexpensive film that Verhoeven has done since "RoboCop", meaning that not even "Showgirls" cost this little, as the box-office returns will tells you. Well, apparently Dutch films really are cheap, because even with a budget that, in USD, is about $21 million, this film has been about as prettied up as leading lady Carice van Houten herself. Of course, unlike Van Houten, this film didn't really "blow my mind" (Like I said, I bet these German slaves to seduction did "Nazi" that coming), as it is not exactly without quite a few faults. I was going into this film expecting some thrills, but I was mostly fearing that Paul Verhoeven would get to be a bit too carried away with this thoughtfulness as the teller of this, for him, more weighty story, thus I am relieved to say that entertainment value is generally firm, though I can't say that my fears were entirely dashed, as there are still limp spells in atmosphere that establish blandness, or at least intensify it, as bland limpness is reinforced enough on paper. At just under two-and-a-half hours, this film outstay its welcome a bit, and does so with repetitious material whose blandness could never be entirely washed away, and whose being accompanied by the aforementioned atmospheric dryness leaves steam to gradually dilute at the film progresses. There are more cold spells to this dramatic thriller than there should be, and that challenges your investment enough, yet doesn't do so alone, as there are also questionable moments in atmosphere that are more overbearing than cold, because whether the film is getting a bit carried away with its violent imagery or getting to be a bit melodramatic, there are more than a few lapses in subtlety, a few of which prove to be glaring. Verhoeven handles this project ambitiously, but hasn't conditioned himself through the years to handle subject matter of this much importance, even though may of this drama's aspects are driven by actiony thrills and intrigue, and perhaps his success as a dramatic storyteller would have been helped if the film was more well-rounded. You certainly get a reasonable understanding of the characters and their situation, but there's only so much expository punch-up to sell you on the full weight of this worthy story, at least enough for you to ignore the conventionalism, because even though this film about an ordinary, but struggling woman exacting revenge on the Nazis with both her companions and her attractiveness could have been turned into a rather refreshing thriller by its own right, Verhoeven hits too many tropes for the film to not simply feel like a cross between a formulaic and somewhat watered down femme fatale thriller and a formulaic and somewhat watered down wartime drama and espionage thriller. There's not a whole lot of punch to this film, and while there is enough force to the inspiration behind this project to almost drive the final product into decency, resistance from pacing and subtlety issues, underdevelopment and conventionalism overpower this ambitious effort and secure its underwhelmingness. Still, the point is that while the film falls short of rewarding, it comes close, carried on the back on many an inspired aspect, one of which being the very thing that our lead Rachel "Ellis de Vries" Stein character uses to get the job done: good looks. Cinematographer Karl Walter Lindenlaub has had a history of lensing pricy thrillers that choose to direct most of their attention in the forming of eye candy to technical spectacle, rather than visual style, so there's not a whole lot that's especially appealing to this film on a visual level, but Lindenlaub's eye is still sharp, gracing the film with a crisp definition that emphasizes color strikingly and occasionally plays with lighting beautifully. The film is pretty prettied up, maybe not to a stunning degree, but certainly to an attractive degree that gives you a lot of room to admire this film's art direction, supervised by Cornelia Ott, - with help from Roland de Groot, Maarten Piersma and Wilbert Van Dorp - and featuring production designs, by Wilbert Van Dorp, and costume designs, by Yan Tax, that intricately and handsomely restore the Nazi-occupied Netherlands with distinct immersion value. The film uses its money well when it comes to putting together a distinguished and engaging look, even though there could be a bit more uniqueness to the photography and art direction, so on a technical level, the film excels about as much as you would expect from a Paul Verhoeven film, only with a few less explosions and whatnot, but what drives the final product is its substance. As I've said, storytelling betrays the value of this film's subject matter, which is limited to begin with, because this isn't your garden variety "Oh, how the Jews suffered, and oh, how depressing it was" type of Holocaust drama, but rather a war-era thriller with some dramatic touches and relevance to Nazi misdeeds, thus making for a story concept that was never to hit too much, but still has a potential that Paul Verhoeven, when particularly inspired as director, does justice to with an effective capturing of the intensity within what action there is, while keeping heart pumping enough to make the dramatic touches fairly compelling. If nothing else, Verhoeven keeps entertainment value going more often than not, sustaining your engagement value through and through, and therefore drawing your attention towards the other commendable areas in storytelling that don't exactly drive the decency of this dramatic thriller alone. There's not a whole lot for the performers to work with, yet with what they've been given, the cast delivers on charisma and heart, with beautiful leading lady Carice van Houten being particularly convincing in her portrayal of an ordinary woman putting herself in extraordinary situations that will test her morality while she goes on a dangerous adventure to give those who have wronged her what she feels is harshly just. Van Houten has only so much to work with, being perhaps at her most engrossing when she's, well, naked (It's a bit disrespectful, I know, but hey, she is indeed good-looking), but her commitment as leading lady is potent enough to help in gracing this film with the heart that, while not enough to carry the final product beyond a degree of underwhelmingness, comes close to rewarding. When the book is closed, you're left with an overdrawn thriller with too many lapses in pacing, subtlety and uniqueness to sustain steam enough to keep underwhelmingness at bay, which isn't to say that there's not enough good looks to cinematography and production value, intrigue to subject matter, and heart to direction and acting to make Paul Verhoeven's "Black Book" an enjoyable, almost rewarding thriller that could have hit harder, but nonetheless gets you by just fine. 2.75/5 - Decent
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Jul 28, 2012
    Verhoeven's look at a Jewish/Dutch woman's survival through the Nazi occupation of Holland is nothing less than an out and out valentine to Nederland herself, a knife cutting both ways about what it takes to survive, the sacrifices made, and living with yourself afterwards. I loved it.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer

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