Generally favorable reviews - based on 18 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 18
  2. Negative: 0 out of 18
Watch On
  1. Reviewed by: Marc Savlov
    May 26, 2011
    The abyss between the boy and the man he may become is cold, black, and unforgiving. Adapted from Jan Terlouw's 1972 novel, this is an often emotionally harrowing depiction of a young idealist running smack into the brutal reality of occupied life.
  2. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Apr 29, 2011
    It's got a grown-up artfulness, but Winter in Wartime could become a lot of boys' favorite movie.
  3. Reviewed by: Steve Persall
    Apr 27, 2011
    Nothing about Koolhoven's film is stunning, but it's a solid piece of work, occasionally feeling as tense as life-and-death situations with Nazis should be.
  4. Reviewed by: Roger Moore
    Apr 27, 2011
    It's a sturdy World War II yarn, with harrowing and heart-breaking moments sprinkled throughout.
  5. Reviewed by: Michael O'Sullivan
    Apr 21, 2011
    The most compelling thing about Winter in Wartime, the Netherlands' official entry for Best Foreign Language Film at this year's Oscars, is not the story. And the story is pretty darn compelling.
  6. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Apr 21, 2011
    Can we ever get innocence back once it's lost? The ending suggests that we can. But at enormous cost.
  7. Reviewed by: Marc Mohan
    Apr 14, 2011
    Director Martin Koolhoven doesn't take many narrative chances, but the somber, steely cinematography and convincing performances help to carry the day.
  8. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Apr 7, 2011
    Well-mounted and expertly played, Winter in Wartime is a class act that lacks only focus and originality to raise it above the ordinary.
  9. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Apr 3, 2011
    Nothing in this film approaches the boy's-eye view of war that, say, John Boorman achieved in "Hope and Glory," but it's an affecting, if somewhat flavorless, journey.
  10. Reviewed by: Rick Groen
    Mar 31, 2011
    View the Second World War through a child's eyes and the result isn't hard to predict: a loss-of-innocence tale. Winter in Wartime is the boilerplate version, with the already dramatic facts of the era ramped up to melodramatic levels. Little wonder it rings so false.
  11. Reviewed by: Leba Hertz
    Mar 24, 2011
    Koolhoven is able to strip away both visually and mentally our idealized cinematic notions of how the resistance fighters lived. It's a lonely existence. It's stark and it's scary. And it makes for a compelling movie.
  12. Reviewed by: Richard Mowe
    Mar 21, 2011
    Koolhoven manages the difficult balance of entertaining as well as offering a high emotional impact, with considerable agility. Pino Donaggio's soaring and powerful score intensifies all of the drama.
  13. Reviewed by: Kyle Smith
    Mar 18, 2011
    May serve as a useful way to introduce teens to what World War II in Europe was like.
  14. Reviewed by: Sheri Linden
    Mar 17, 2011
    Straightforward and solid but only mildly involving.
  15. Reviewed by: Stephen Holden
    Mar 17, 2011
    Winter in Wartime turns into a moderately gripping thriller with predictable plot twists and reversals.
  16. Reviewed by: Rex Reed
    Mar 15, 2011
    We know about Anne Frank's diary and Paul Verhoeven's masterpiece "Black Book," but director Martin Koolhoven has shed new light on what happened in Holland with a powerful and touching film.
  17. Reviewed by: S. James Snyder
    Mar 15, 2011
    A fresh twist on a familiar fog-of-war story.
  18. Reviewed by: Ella Taylor
    Mar 15, 2011
    An efficient, absorbing example of the form framed in a boy's coming-of-age story set in a snowbound rural Holland in 1945.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 10 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 4 out of 4
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 4
  3. Negative: 0 out of 4
  1. May 30, 2014
    Not only having a beautiful title and scene of white winter, "Winter In Wartime" successfully combines a touching War-melodrama with thrillerNot only having a beautiful title and scene of white winter, "Winter In Wartime" successfully combines a touching War-melodrama with thriller elements. This film brings us to examine ourselves how to confront, betrayal and ally, courage and duplicity as surrounding us complexly. Full Review »
  2. Aug 12, 2011
    This review contains spoilers, click full review link to view. This thing called life, it can be a raw deal, but you're young only once, so the childhood that fate hands you, even if its place and time leaves something to be desired, like say, most of Europe during WWII, kept under siege by the Nazis, gives you no other choice but to adapt, persevere, and outvie the specter of death hanging over you and your loved ones through sheer will, or better yet, unfettered ignorance, which can be chalked up to youth. Germany's legacy and shame, the Holocaust, unduly represented in a filmography that accounts for the six million dead, mostly from well-noted reservoirs such as Poland, France and Hungary, always seems to have room for more horror stories(the latest addition to the canon being Lajos Koltai's "Fateless"). The plight of the Netherlands(Paul Verhoeven's "Black Book", notwithstanding), however, has largely been underdocumented, until now, since "Winter in Wartime", told from a child's-eye view, makes it known that the Nazi war machine really got around. Adolph Hitler hated the Dutch too, enough to kill 250,000 of them("only" 104,000 victims were of Jewish ancestry) during the occupation(1940-1945). Like the boy in John Boorman's "Hope and Glory", whose London suburbs get bombed on a nightly basis, nothing fazes Michiel(Matijn Lakemeier) anymore either, not even the sight of a plane in flames descending from the night sky and the ensuing crash just beyond the woods. In fact, Michiel is thrilled(likewise, Bill cavorts excitedly among the neighborhood ruins via the "fireworks" provided by the German blitzkrieg) because he knows his plans are set for the next day. The boy and a neighbor will inspect the wreckage and come away with a souvenir or two unscathed. It'll be a lark. Although Michiel professes a disdain for the friendly terms his father maintains with the Nazis, he is not about taking full advantage of the privileges that come with being the mayor's son. Albeit not a Jew, or even necessarily a Jew sympathizer(what the boy knows about the "Final Solution" is never made explicit), a Dutch boy could easily be shot by a Nazi soldier for poking his nose where it shouldn't be. Michiel, however, knows that he has the run of the place, displaying not even the slightest modicum of fear about being killed. When the interlopers are discovered, the boys run away, laughing, not catching the inscrutable look on a soldier's face as they disappear into the thick of the forest. With the Nazis in lukewarm pursuit, the boys(anarchic and oblivious to the significance of being chased), pedal against a flow of downtrodden people who better understand that it's not the time for fun and games. After a nasty spill, Michiel gets the reminder that he needs, as the boy looks up at a German soldier, who would shoot him on the spot if his father wasn't somebody in this town. Called in for questioning, the inquisitor knows that Michiel had an accomplice, but the SS officer forgoes giving him the third degree, despite the numerous eyewitnesses which would lay waste to the boy's fallacious claim about being alone. It's with this feeling of untouchability that the boy, in his capacity as a resistance movement neophyte, goes to the wounded RAF soldier in broad daylight, trudging through the blinding white snow(along with his sister, a nurse) without taking any precautions against detection. It's a game to him. Rather than sticking to the main road, Michiel detours onto the frozen river, riding parallel to the pedestrians, alone, conveying a perception of superiority, as if he too, on some unconscious level, has become a Nazi sympathizer, because visually, the boy relegates his fellow countrymen to the background, treating them like riff-raff, in which their miniaturization renders them faceless and insignificant. When Michiel falls through the ice, he is pulled out of the frigid waters by a soldier, whose digits, locked with the boy's own tactile members, looks akin to a handshake, causing in the accidental resistance fighter, a bout of self-realization to the ice's thinness that he'd been "skating" on all along. Only then does the adventurer realize that helping Jack has political ramifications with far-reaching effects, reverberating all the way back to Poland. Still, in "Winter in Wartime", it's not the Jews who suffer, but rather, it's the collaborator's son, when Johan(Raymond Thiry), despite being apolitical, dies like a Semite by firing squad. Notably, the filmmaker turns the Jewish people into a secret. Apparently, the Dutch townsfolk hid them so well, "Winter in Wartime" forgets that they exist. Pure and simple, this narrative is about the Dutch, which is good and fine, since it doesn't upstage the Jews' own narrative, unlike the well-meaning, but problematic "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas", where the saddest fate of all belongs to a concentration camp commandant whose own son accidentally perishes in a crematorium. Full Review »
  3. May 8, 2011
    This is the best film I have seen this year as of May 8th. Beautifully filmed, suspenseful, and full of hop and despair. I never saw the hookThis is the best film I have seen this year as of May 8th. Beautifully filmed, suspenseful, and full of hop and despair. I never saw the hook in the plot and thought the brutality of Nazi occupation was captured without excess. Excellent! Full Review »