Black Book, Paul Verhoeven (2006)

WWII in occupied Holland. A Jewish young woman tries to hide, run, escape, survive, resist, capitulate, get laid, fall in love, sabotage Nazi headquarters, spy for the Resistance, help the big soft-hearted SS officer she’s fallen in love with escape, escape herself (again), learn Hebrew . . . Poor Carice van Houten is in almost every frame of the film, and my God she sure earned her money here, with all the running around Verhoeven makes her do. The most expensive film ever made in my ancestral homeland, and it’s a disaster. Mostly because of its schizophrenia, as it tries by turns to be an action-adventure movie with explosions, a crafty spy thriller with clever plot twists, a somber docudrama with statistics about the extermination of the Dutch Jews, and–most fatally and ridiculously–a wildly melodramatic love story in which the young woman falls for the Nazi she’s supposed to be spying on, who has turned out to have a heart of gold. Awww. The plot contains about a hundred twists, most of them utterly improbable, and some of them so breathtakingly stupid I literally laughed out loud, as did the otherwise remarkably well-behaved high school students in the row behind me in the tiny Provincetown movie theater. Oh, and it’s almost three hours long. If I hadn’t paid $8.50 for it I wouldn’t have stayed. My favorite thing about it was peeing when it ended.

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