Sony Pictures Classics | Release Date: April 4, 2007
8.1
USER SCORE
Universal acclaim based on 74 Ratings
USER RATING DISTRIBUTION
Positive:
62
Mixed:
6
Negative:
6
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10
MartinL.May 19, 2007
This is one of the most riviting movies I have seen in years. For 2 hours & 25 minutes there was no time did the movie hesitate to engulf you in the events it portrayed. A must see!
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9
BillB.May 20, 2007
I saw this on a sudden whim, with hardly any information in advance. I was immediately drawn in and carried along, furiously. This is my kind of movie. Well done in every way, thrilling, captivating, suspensful, shocking, funny (at times), I saw this on a sudden whim, with hardly any information in advance. I was immediately drawn in and carried along, furiously. This is my kind of movie. Well done in every way, thrilling, captivating, suspensful, shocking, funny (at times), with a heroine who is relentlessly charming, saucy, energetic, smart, and downright cool. This movie gave what I go to the movies to get. The negative reviews strike me as pathetic quibbles, the stuff people write just to be able to stand apart from the crowd. To me, this is a don't miss. Expand
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10
mBluesMay 30, 2007
An amazing story, that could not have been thought up by a fiction writer, wonderfully told. Seeing this film was heart-wrenching, and something to think about. An absolutely great film.
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8
AndrewK.May 26, 2007
This movie was awesome. Kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. Everyone in the film is brilliant, but Van Houten especially stands out. It had the cool resistance-group action feel of Munich with the style and spirit of a foreign This movie was awesome. Kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. Everyone in the film is brilliant, but Van Houten especially stands out. It had the cool resistance-group action feel of Munich with the style and spirit of a foreign film. Does this count as a foreign film since it was made by Paul Verhoeven? I don't know and I don't care. The action scenes were intense, the sex scenes were erotic and there was just the right dose of humor at all the right times. The best film I've seen so far this year. Expand
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8
JayC.May 4, 2007
Kept me on the edge of my seat and very involved with the harrowing sequence of Van Houten's performance. Hard to believe any person could survive so many personal losses and still function. Two hours and 35 minutes went fast and left Kept me on the edge of my seat and very involved with the harrowing sequence of Van Houten's performance. Hard to believe any person could survive so many personal losses and still function. Two hours and 35 minutes went fast and left me drained but continuing to think about who did who to whom. Thats entertainment. Expand
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10
ShirleyR.Jun 18, 2007
Liked it better than "The Lives of Others". First rate-must see. Very well written, acted and grabs you right away, then doesn't disappoint. Will see it again to catch all the little clues along the way.
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10
AurelianL.Jun 4, 2007
Surprisingly good. fast paced and interesting. More complex characters than you would expect for a action romp. Interestingly, teaches me that listening to the New Yorker for film reviews is a total waste of time. Nigel Andrews in the Surprisingly good. fast paced and interesting. More complex characters than you would expect for a action romp. Interestingly, teaches me that listening to the New Yorker for film reviews is a total waste of time. Nigel Andrews in the Financial Times was much more reliable in predicting its appeal. Expand
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9
RobTNov 10, 2007
This is not only a return to form for Verhoven, but by far the best movie he has ever made. It's effectiveness comes from the fact that it doesn't try to be too preachy or delve too deep into the history of the German occupation of This is not only a return to form for Verhoven, but by far the best movie he has ever made. It's effectiveness comes from the fact that it doesn't try to be too preachy or delve too deep into the history of the German occupation of Holland. It is, at its core, a taut thriller that doesn't let up for a moment during its two and a half hours. The fact that it takes place during WW2 is almost irrelevant. Expand
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10
ChristopherNov 13, 2007
This was one of the best films one can see. It was well done; great plot, great acting and excellent photography. I watched it 2 times - it was that good.
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10
EdN.Mar 29, 2007
This is a smart movie made by a great filmmaker working at the top of his powers from a script by a tried and true collaborator about a subject - Nazi occupied Holland - that both know a great deal about.
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9
AnitaB.Apr 29, 2007
An exciting, fast paced WW II movie which portrays human shortcomings terrifically.The French were not the only collaborationists! Great acting, over the top exciting movie.
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10
EnriqueMay 16, 2007
Absolutely one of the best political thrillers ever.
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10
GregS.Jun 17, 2007
Run! Do not pass go! This is a brilliant film, well written, incredibly photographed and with carefully selected actors who pour their hearts and abilities into their complex characters. It is our film of the year. The Canadian references Run! Do not pass go! This is a brilliant film, well written, incredibly photographed and with carefully selected actors who pour their hearts and abilities into their complex characters. It is our film of the year. The Canadian references are especially appreciated. The crowds scenes, the intimacies, the brutalities and the twists and turns of the plot kept us caught up in the time and tragedy of the occupation of Holland. Any one giving this a Yellow vote fails to appreciate the true significance of this masterpiece. A film to be seen over and over. Expand
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8
JackS.Oct 16, 2007
A very silly melodrama. Lots of gunfights in which dozens of heroes and German soldiers get killed, lots of bare breast and a story line like naked snake wrestling. Therefore, a very watch-worthy flick. Heh.
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9
[Anonymous]Oct 19, 2007
Strong, exciting, visually superb, but sort of James Bondish. Outstanding entertainment with significant sadness.
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8
CuculizaO.Dec 31, 2007
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.
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10
GeorgeMar 29, 2007
Saw this movie last fall at a special screening and was absolutely blown away. Why this film was not nominated for an Academy Award I will never understand. Perhaps because of its degradation? Believe me, Wertmuller went way beyond this and Saw this movie last fall at a special screening and was absolutely blown away. Why this film was not nominated for an Academy Award I will never understand. Perhaps because of its degradation? Believe me, Wertmuller went way beyond this and was called a genius. Maybe it is because Hollywood has a lingering love/hate relationship with Paul Verhoeven? He is in top form here as is Carice van Houten. I want to see her again and hope some roles come her way as a result of her performance. Outstanding. Expand
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8
GaryB.Apr 14, 2007
Black Book presents a negative picture of Dutch resistance to Nazism during World War II. Most Dutch were ambivalent to Nazi ideas, and a huge number of young Dutch joined the SS. They were no better than the French, as this movie portrays. Black Book presents a negative picture of Dutch resistance to Nazism during World War II. Most Dutch were ambivalent to Nazi ideas, and a huge number of young Dutch joined the SS. They were no better than the French, as this movie portrays. Duplicitous traitors and self-serving, the Jewish heroine, perhaps based on some real facts, looks invincible in the face of so much moral ambiguity. A well made story and film, but a bit vulgar and over-done on several counts. Expand
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7
ChadS.May 18, 2007
"Black Book" is a handsomely mounted, very entertaining thriller about...the holocaust, which is slightly better than a life-affirming comedy("Life is Beautiful") about the holocaust, I guess. Ellis(Carice van Houten) is unlike any "Black Book" is a handsomely mounted, very entertaining thriller about...the holocaust, which is slightly better than a life-affirming comedy("Life is Beautiful") about the holocaust, I guess. Ellis(Carice van Houten) is unlike any protagonist we've ever seen in a film about Jews during the war, because she never seems sufficiently devastated about the plight of her people, even her family. Ellis' greatest outpouring of emotion is for a Kraut. In her former incarnation, as Rachel, a German plane bombs the home of her Christian safekeepers, and she never seems at all perturbed about their sacrifice, the ultimate sacrifice these people paid for hiding her from the camps. They were Dutch, I believe. After the war, Ellis is branded as a collaborator for the Nazis. This is when "Black Book" goes over-the-top with the tears and action. She's punished twice, if you're perceptive enough to see what happens to her as such. In a key scene, meant to elicit sympathy for Ellis, vengeful millitary officials dump a vat of feces on the hapless Jew, who you're supposed to feel sorry for her. But this woman is no Anne Frank. You can make the argument that this retribution by the Dutch people(which is directed at her for allegedly setting a trap for the revolutionaries), is actually an act of incidental vigilantism for that Christian family she never feels any remorse for. There were small children who burned up in that household. She's punished again for crying over Muntz(Sebastian Koch). I'm not really sure what this filmmaker is trying to say, but "Black Book" is undeniably fun to watch, even though it's about one of the darkest chapters in human civilization. Expand
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8
ERG1008Aug 24, 2010
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
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.
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8
SpangleJan 12, 2017
Paul Verhoeven knows sex and violence and Black Book finds him utilizing both in a film about a Dutch Jew who joins the resistance in WWII and infiltrates the Nazi headquarters in Holland. Identified as the best Dutch film of all-time by thePaul Verhoeven knows sex and violence and Black Book finds him utilizing both in a film about a Dutch Jew who joins the resistance in WWII and infiltrates the Nazi headquarters in Holland. Identified as the best Dutch film of all-time by the Dutch themselves, it is not hard to see why Verhoeven's film has become so praised. With his trademark sexual exploitation and neck spurting violence, Black Book is a thrilling and suspenseful WWII thriller that constantly defies expectations with its portrayal of betrayal and the improbable allies and enemies made by our hero. Set in the final day of Nazi occupation of Holland, the film is neither damning nor sympathetic to either side and Verhoeven finds a balance in the war, opting instead to tell the story of one incredible woman.

With Carice van Houten starring as Rachel Stein/Ellis de Vries, Black Book is already off to a good start as Van Houten turns in a characteristically terrific performance. Subdued, sensual, and manipulative, Van Houten is a perfect fit for the sexuality demanded by Verhoeven's lead characters. She also handles herself in the dramatic scenes incredibly well, being both emotionally available while never crying. You can see what she has seen and had happen to her has a deep emotional impact, but on the outside, she is a rock and ready to take on all comers. This power and strength is a positive trait of the character and one that Van Houten exemplifies at all times. Though the men in the film are obsessed with her breasts and she is constantly having them exposed, an act that would theoretically establish her as subservient to the men leering at her nude body, she retains power and control of the situations she finds herself in. Of course, men do rescue her in the film, but at all times, she is ten steps ahead of the men in the film and always capable of fighting back.

Interestingly, the film finds ethical people on both sides. Sent to become the girl of Captain Muntze (Sebastian Koch), Rachel/Ellis quickly discovers that he is a decent man who, in spite of his crimes he has committed, wants to see an end to the bloodshed. Though he should pay for his crimes, he is not as evil as other Nazi leaders and wants the war to end as soon as possible. He also truly loves Ellis and refuses to give her up, even upon finding out that she is a Jew. On the flip side, she becomes enemies with people on the resistance side who are actually collaborators with the Nazis and have betrayed the resistance consistently in order to become rich. It is this ethical relativism that makes Black Book stand out from the crowd in WWII films. Though films such as Stephen Daldry's The Reader have tried to paint a Nazi guard as sympathetic, it did so through the guise of having her engage in a pedophilic relationship with a young man. Black Book, fortunately, does not take this approach. Instead, it humanizes him through his love and stances taken in favor of Ellis, much to his detriment with the Nazis. He is a simple man who loves collecting stamps and is not the monster the Dutch perceive him to be. By the time the film ends, his death is one that is greatly mourned by Ellis and the audience alike.

The action sequences and moments of suspense are equally well handled by Verhoeven. We know he knows how to make a great action set piece through his work on RoboCop or Starship Troopers and Black Book is no exception. Brilliantly filmed, choreographed, and exuberant action scenes both thrill and instill great awe throughout the film as the men weave through the Nazi headquarters and the streets of Holland. Of course, one of the great flaws in many war or pseudo war films is its characters. Here, this is true as many characters blend together or are underdeveloped, such as staunch Christian Theo (Johnny de Mol). Now, the counter argument is that this is Rachel/Ellie's film and her story, which is fair. That said, the sprinkles of characterization we receive for everybody else is often not sufficient. Fortunately, the film does enough to highlight key motivations and traits of important players that foreshadow and drops hints for the audience to pick up on that play key roles later on.

A thrilling, unpredictable, and greatly dramatic WWII thriller, Black Book finds that director Paul Verhoeven still knows sex, violence, and thrills, and can find ways to make these feel unique and thoroughly engaging. At every turn, Black Book is a great exercise in ethical relativism and a terrific look at the Nazis reign of terror in Holland the betrayal that ensued across the country and across Europe in the wake of occupation.
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