Black Book

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +3

Content: -4

Carice van Houten, Sebastian Koch, Halina Reijn, Thom Hoffman, Peter Blok. War/suspense/action. Written by Paul Verhoeven, Gerald Soeteman II. Directed by Paul Verhoeven.

FILM SYNOPSIS: After her entire family is slaughtered by the Nazis, a Jewish woman goes to work for the Dutch underground during 1944. Her mission is to infiltrate the Gestapo by starting an affair with a high-ranking German officer.

PREVIEW REVIEW: Well paced, superbly acted and epically detailed, Black Book thoroughly entertains with its suspense dynamic, while reminding viewers of the brutality of those bent on dominating the world. Its good storytelling, but excessive in its content, which includes profane language, graphic sexuality, coarse behavior such as viewing a nude man urinating, and vicious violence that includes brutal beatings, torture and explicit murders.

One other disappointing factor is the seeming detachment from anything spiritual. The good guys are motivated by revenge. No one is seen drawing from their faith, either Christian or Jewish, in order to deal with the horrific madness that has overcome their world. Indeed, when two female friends meet at the beginning, one of the ladies jokes about her husbands newfound Christian walk. It is an amusement to both women that this man has become a Believer. That has been a source of humor for many a subplot in many a movie. I suppose its a reflection of real life. For many a decision to develop a spiritual awareness is difficult to grasp and therefore becomes comic. Ironic, since it is the spiritual side of man that lives on.

Many of the worlds people had to rely on their faith in God in order to survive the harrowing years of WWII. Their story is not told here.

Video Alternatives: The Hiding Place. A family rescues Jews during WWII. This film gives a wonderful example of how Christ motivates His followers to sacrifice for people of different faiths. Corrie Ten Boom worked with the underground during WWII, helping to save many Jews. Imprisoned herself, she learned there is no pit so deep that He is not deeper still.

Or try renting Anne Frank Remembered. This poignant documentary works on several levels: a true-life coming of age; the insight of a wise young girl; the human capacity to survive and look out for fellow human beings.

Every teenager should see this film to learn of the destructiveness of bigotry and to be uplifted by the courage and power people can display. Filled with many intuitive moments, the film reminds us that soon no one will be here to tell the personal events associated with that horrific time. For example, the middle-aged son of a holocaust victim meets the woman who protected his father nearly 50 years ago. Two months after this meeting, the man dies. Another moment had a sudden emotional impact on me. Real-life film footage shows a parade during that period when suddenly the camera pans up the side of a housing complex, revealing people looking out the window at the commotion in the street. One of those people is the real Anne Frank.

I remember bursting out in tears as that visual overwhelmed me. Im not sure why, other than the fact that here was this human being, full of life, and I realized that life would swiftly undergo change, then be snuffed out one day in a concentration camp. Its a hard image to view, yet one of the most moving ever caught on film. Anne Frank Remembered is rated PG (the atrocities of Hitler's concentration camps are briefly seen toward the end of the film).

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Sony Pictures Classics

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Some crude sexual remarks.

Obscene Language: The film contains a few obscenities sprinkled throughout mainly the f- and s-words.

Profanity: Several times Gods name is followed by a curse and Jesus name is used whenever someone is frustrated or angry.

Violence: A great deal of violence is depicted, including the mowing down of several unsuspecting Jewish people by dispassionate Nazis; there are brutal beatings, torture and graphic murders. We see a wounded man having a bullet removed from his shoulder in graphic detail. A woman is brutalized. Blood: Some blood.

Sex: Several sexual situations; we see a woman on the toilet

Nudity: Graphic male and female nudity, includes a woman dyeing her pubic hair.

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: Drinking and smoking throughout.

Other: A sickened woman is seen throwing up. The visual of an actor vomiting has become commonplace in movies. Filmmakers used to have the character run into the bathroom. We understood why. But now, the complete visual is used in graphic detail whenever a person becomes nauseated on screen.

Running Time: 125 minutes
Intended Audience: Adults

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