I’m reminded occasionally that there is a whole other watchable world of TV and Film out there, and “Black Book“, a Dutch World War Two thriller by Paul Verhoeven (he of “Robocop” fame) is one of those movies. It’s a good, solid entertaining movie strengthened by the fact that it’s in Dutch (it’s about the Dutch Resistance) and populated by a Dutch and German cast almost entirely unknown to me which added to its authenticity in a way that the latest Tom Cruise vehicle would struggle to do. After all, did anyone really buy Cruise as a German officer in “Valkyrie”?
The performance by Carice Van Houten in the lead, in a cast full of competition, marks out a young actress who deserves a bigger audience, and the 1940s soundtrack is toe tappingly good.
Watching it, I found myself getting annoyed that European cinema does not make more movies like this. It’s Hollywood quality, and appeals to a mass market, and yet aside from Verhoeven and Luc Besson, you’d be hard pressed to find many European movie makers producing films that Europeans will choose to watch in cinemas when competing against US blockbusters. I’ve never understood this. We have the talent, the actors, and a continent which is probably the most impressive film set in human history. Where are our thrillers reflecting our values, about French and German agents abseiling down the side of the Eiffel Tower to stop a bunch of Christian fundamentalist nutters? There’s another thing I’ll have to put on the to-do list.