Black Book

Metascore
71

Generally favorable reviews - based on 34 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 27 out of 34
  2. Negative: 4 out of 34

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Critic Reviews

  1. Reviewed by: Glenn Kenny
    100
    Black Book is Verhoeven's best film since "RoboCop": audacious, smart, shamelessly entertaining.
  2. Like much of Verhoeven's best work, it's shamelessly melodramatic, but in its dark moral complexities it puts "Schindler's List" to shame. Van Houten and Sebastian Koch (The Lives of Others) are only two of the standouts in an exceptional cast.
  3. 100
    In less accomplished hands, Black Book could have been a hopeless mishmash. But Verhoeven proves a sure-handed storyteller, which might come as a surprise, as well as a terrific visual stylist, which shouldn't.
  4. 91
    In the end, Black Book may be one of the most fun movies ever made about how people basically suck.
  5. A highly original and progressively riveting personal adventure.
  6. It succeeds on almost all fronts. The epic film is a high-octane adventure rooted in fact with a raft of arresting characters, big action sequences and twists and turns galore.
  7. 88
    Just for starters, no movie about the Dutch Resistance during World War II has any right to be this wildly entertaining, not to mention this provocative and potently erotic.
  8. 88
    Black Book possesses a taut, exciting script that throws surprises at the viewer on a regular basis.
  9. While Rachel's story is fiction, many of its incidents are rooted in historical events carefully researched by Soeteman and the film's briskly staged action and stunning reversals of fortune ensure that its two and a half hours fly by.
  10. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    88
    A hard-core war film with raw violence, intense action, graphic sexuality and a twisting plot that offers a series of surprises.
  11. The movie scrambles our responses and covers so much ground, with such zest, that its two and a half hours race past like a firestorm.
  12. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    88
    Black Book takes the conventions of the WWII epic -- the prison breaks, the interrogation scenes -- and undermines them with craft and muscle and the ripe lack of restraint we've come to expect from this director.
  13. Reviewed by: Derek Elley
    80
    Moves like an express train across almost 2½ hours without any sense of rush and with strong, empathetic characters etched en route.
  14. 80
    Black Book, which takes its title from a secret list of Dutch collaborators, is an impressively old-fashioned yet fashionably embittered movie.
  15. As epic as its two-hours-and-25-minute running time indicates, Black Book is as subversive as it is traditional, both enamored of conventional notions of heroism and frankly contemptuous of them.
  16. Wall Street Journal
    Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    80
    Black Book is its own kind of thriller. The film is filled with the genre's conventions -- suspense, betrayal, melodrama, violence, music -- and it's hugely enjoyable from start to finish.
  17. I urge you not to pass up Black Book, especially on a wide screen. It's a marvelous movie-movie, with a new screen goddess. Van Houten has a soft, heart-shaped face on top of a body so naturally, ripely beautiful it has its own kind of truth.
  18. 80
    Carice van Houten as Rachel/Ellis is as captivating as any screen siren working today.
  19. The action set-pieces, double crosses, and narrow escapes are handsomely mounted and suspenseful as a Saturday matinee.
  20. The action is nonstop and often harrowing and well staged. But van Houten, while a charmer, doesn't adequately convey the disgust (and connivance) that her character would inevitably feel in such a situation.
  21. Van Houten, a veteran of European TV, is in almost every scene, and her energetic performance keeps Black Book percolating despite an overstuffed plot that strains credibility and often tips over into melodrama.
  22. 75
    Black Book takes a brave, if odd, approach to a WWII historical drama, but one thing is certain: No one in the theater will be bored.
  23. Black Book doesn't let the grim facts of the Holocaust get in the way of some ripping pulp.
  24. 70
    It's a messy, colorful big-screen entertainment that veers from sober period piece to outrageous melodrama, which is to say it's a Verhoeven movie.
  25. Black Book may be the looniest use of the Holocaust as a playground since Roberto Benigni served up his infernal clown act in "Life Is Beautiful."
  26. Like Stone in "Basic Instinct," van Houten has an audacity to match Verhoeven's. Hers is a role that Bette Davis would have killed Ingrid Bergman for, and she is so good in it that it seems only a matter of time before she'll star in a real Hollywood movie - as opposed to this pretender.
  27. 63
    On the one hand, Black Book has the artiness of subtitles, the dramatic weight of history, and the desperate heroics of Jews hiding from Nazis. On the other hand, it has Paul Verhoeven.
  28. 58
    The storytelling -- the script is co-written by Verhoeven's old collaborator Gerard Soeteman -- is messy, and the result never feels real or human or vital.
  29. Black Book works only if you take it for the pulpiest of fiction, not a historical gloss, its stated claims to "true events" notwithstanding.
  30. This is a film that dearly wants to be important, that wants to do for Holland what Irene Nemirovsky's "Suite Française" does for France - examine the German occupation through a prism of painful honesty. Yet the lofty ambition comes dressed in cheap attire; Verhoeven can't seem to stop himself from shopping downmarket.
  31. The storytelling is inept and illogical.
  32. 30
    This is trash pretending to serve the cause of history: a "Dirty Dozen" knockoff with one eye on "Schindler’s List."
  33. 30
    A viscerally effective thriller ends up a repugnant exercise in moral relativism, delivered with the grandstanding swagger of the self-styled provocateur.
  34. The new Dutch film Black Book manages to turn World War II into a large piece of cheese. A lurid, pulpy, slightly perverse potboiler, the movie suffers mainly from its utter lack of seriousness.
User Score
8.2

Universal acclaim- based on 71 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 20 out of 26
  2. Negative: 4 out of 26
  1. Aug 24, 2010
    8
    Jewish Dutch girl hides from the Nazis, reunites with her family, joins the resistance, gets friendly with high ranking Nazi officer, deceit &Jewish Dutch girl hides from the Nazis, reunites with her family, joins the resistance, gets friendly with high ranking Nazi officer, deceit & mayhem.
    Surprised this was as good as it was considering Paul Verhoeven was the director. Yes it has his usual amounts of pointless nudity but the story is very gripping & Carice van Houten is very convincing in the lead role.
    Full Review »
  2. francel
    May 8, 2008
    2
    This is 'Indiana Jones meets the Dutch Resistance'. I haven't seen this many fanciful, absurdly unrealistic escape scenes This is 'Indiana Jones meets the Dutch Resistance'. I haven't seen this many fanciful, absurdly unrealistic escape scenes since, well, Indiana Jones. The difference is that this movie, peopled with stock characters and flimsy action sequences, wants to be taken seriously as a commentary on WWII Nazi atrocities. Puhleeze. Full Review »
  3. CuculizaO.
    Dec 31, 2007
    8
    Verhoeven doesn't want to teach you a lesson. He just wants to entertains you telling this story through a riveting thriller with Van Verhoeven doesn't want to teach you a lesson. He just wants to entertains you telling this story through a riveting thriller with Van Houten gracing the screen just as well as any other movie siren these days. Full Review »