Rest assured, Paul Verhoeven’s return to Dutch filmmaking constitutes no major makeover. This time, the mucky-minded maverick who eyed US imperialism through big bugs (Starship Troopers), state control through big robots (RoboCop), Philip K Dick through big Arnold (Total Recall) and female desire through Sharon Stone’s crotch (Basic Instinct) turns his gaze to the Resistance in World War Two. When he shows us a Jewish woman dyeing her pubes blonde in order to seduce a Gestapo stamp-collector, you know that not a lot’s changed since the lay off that followed 2000’s disappointing Hollow Man.
As usual with Verhoeven, though, this racy political thriller is a ripping kind of guilty pleasure. Driven by subterfuge and sex (of course), our newly-bleached Resistance woman Rachel (Carice van Houten) gets lewd with Officer Müntze (Sebastian Koch) in order to help free captured Resistance fighters, only to find that some Nazis are okay and some Resistance chaps are not.
Granted, this is crude as history – Verhoeven-style crude, even, especially when a topless woman is splashed with rivers of shit – but the twisty plot’s ducks, feints and fucks fly by under his energetic direction and there’s at least a little fruity complexity to the sexual dynamic between the charismatic van Houten and Koch. Brash and broad as Book is, it’s still a page-turner. And for the most part it’s good to see Verhoeven back in the game.