Holland 1944 - the final years of WWII finds the beautiful
singer Rachel Stein taking refuge with a family in rural Holland.
Once a popular and wealthy singer, Rachel has been waiting
out the war like many Jews in Europe, separated from her family
and a moment away from being caught by the Gestapo. In a chain
of events, Rachel joins the Dutch resistance forces and uncovers
trails of deceit and deception pointing to compatriots she
once counted as her closest friends.
If you thought Wong Chia Chi from Ang Lee’s
acclaimed espionage drama thriller Lust, Caution had it bad
with all the painful looking lovemaking she had to do with
the enemy, wait till you see what Rachel Stein has to go through
in this 2006 film set in the final years of World War II.
follow the young Dutch Jewish girl as she goes through trials
and tribulations during the horrific moments of war. Just
as she narrowly survives the war in Holland, trouble looks
for her when she decides to join the resistance force to find
out who betrayed her family. The poor girl soon joins the
enemy and gets misunderstood by her comrades. The rest of
the film sees our heroine trying to find ways to prove her
innocence and to find the real betrayer.
a plot like that, you can expect twists and turns around every
corner. And for a picture that runs at a lengthy 145 minutes,
it takes a capable director to keep the viewers interested
in the story developments. Thankfully, Holland born Paul Verhoeven
does a competent job of keeping us engaged – who would
have thought that this is the same man who gave us Basic Instinct
(1992) and gasp, the terribly panned Showgirls (1995)?
storytelling keeps you at the edge of your seats because you’ll
care for the fate of the protagonist. Every risky move she
makes, every mishap she suffers from, every close shave she
escapes – you’d want her to survive. And this
role is also skillfully played by the luminous Carice van
Houten, who was nominated and won several awards for her portrayal
of the long suffering Rachel Stein. Whether it’s the
scene where she performs a song for the enemies, or the scene
where she places a spy radio behind the commander’s
safe, or the scene where she is humiliated with bucketfuls
of human waste (told you Wong Chia Chi had it easy), you’ll
want her to survive each and every of these ordeals.
is also probably when you know this BAFTA nominated film has
worked. The all round intense performances by the cast have
captivated you. The attention paid to historical details has
awed you. The cinematic effect of the brutalities of war as
played out on widescreen has affected you. Throw in elements
of the somewhat exploitative sex and violence (presto, you
get a M18 rating for this), and you’d find yourself
immensely enjoying this epic.
SPECIAL FEATURES :
This Code 3 disc contains no special features.
film is presented in its original Dutch, German and Israeli
Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track, and although the visual transfer
isn’t fantastic, it’s good enough for your average
home entertainment collection.
by John Li