‘Black Book’ an old-fashioned spy thriller | AspenTimes.com

‘Black Book’ an old-fashioned spy thriller

Clarice van Houten and Sebastian Koch star in the Dutch World War II film "Black Book," showing Wednesday through Saturday at the Wheeler Opera House. (Jaap Vrenegoor)

ASPEN ” Dutch-born director Paul Verhoeven, known for such thrillers as “Basic Instinct” and “Total Recall,” moves into unexpected territory with “Black Book,” opening Wednesday at Aspen’s Wheeler Opera House.

Co-written by Verhoeven, the film is set toward the end of World War II and examines the activity of a Dutch resistance cell. Verhoeven’s version of a World War II story is long on suspense and surprises, as the resistance fighters – including a Jewish woman whose family had been wiped out by the Nazis – get dangerously close to the enemy.

The film is an endless maze of double crosses and double agents. But “Black Book” maintains a gravity appropriate to the setting, and successfully crystallizes issues, especially of identity: How much are we defined by our actions, as opposed to our intentions? And for a director whose films include the futuristic “Robocop” and “Total Recall,” Verhoeven displays a deft touch for the past, giving “Black Book” the feel, look and sound of an old-fashioned spy thriller.

It shows Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Wheeler, along with a 4:30 p.m. matinee on Saturday. “Disturbia” continues Wednesday and Thursday at 5:30 p.m.

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