WINTER IN WARTIME


Dir. Martin Koolhoven. Netherlands. 2008.


Talking Pictures alias talkingpix.co.uk
 
 


 
 

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This WWII film carrying on the fine Dutch tradition of resistance pictures following the success of 'Soldier of Orange' and 'Black Book'; was higher grossing than 'The Dark Knight' in Holland on its initial release.  Following that success and its nomination as Holland's entry for Foriegn Language Academy Award, it is gaining a mark of respect on the cine circuit and is being released on DVD this month by
 
Directed by Martin Koolhoven (who also co-wrote the screenplay), and produced by the man who brought us 'Black Book'. The film follows the tale of 14 year old Michiel (Martijn Lakemeier), who during the Nazi occupation of his homeland feels a sense of resentment towards his father, the mayor who works and 'laughs' with the Nazis as they walk the streets.  He has an ambition to be involved in the resistance movement, heightened by the presence of his Uncle who is involved in the movement to good effect.
 
Michiel finds his opportunity when he happens across a crashed RAF pilot Jack (Jamie Campbell Bower - 'Twilight') who suffering a knee injury needs support and must get a message back to England in which he asks Michiel to make sure it does.
 
As a mode of rebellion to his father, Michiel whom initially appears wimpish steadily grows in character across the piece, becoming more mature as his decision making is put to the limit as he has to make them under pressurised situations.  None more so when his father is framed for implicating a murder and put to a firing squad.  Michiel must reassess certain relationships within his family and his relationship with his country, one that he has been so loyal to. 
 
The morality questions put upon this young man's head plays upon his naivety (much like in 'The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas') where his initial innocence combined with his adolescent growing pains.  While it may be a bit too much to consider a young man capable of such actions, it does ask what can you do for your country if the opportunity presents itself.
 
The cinematography of the wintry landscapes presents the chance for thriller elements in the chase sequences, and the connotation that war is gloomy and cold.  Whilst the plotting may be a bit laboured; at times diminishing the superbly underacted ensemble who keep you gripped, although Campbell Bower's model looks are lost (he resembles David Bowie in 'The Man Who Fell To Earth' - all cheekbones) amongst this Euro cast who apply themselves well to this distinguished adaptation of would you believe it, a childrens novel. 
 
Praise especially should be heaped upon the young Lakemeier, taking a role that could be seen as naive and giving it significant layers of complexity to admire and encourage for future performances.  Whilst this film is two hours well spent, whilst it might not have the sheen of 'Black Book' it certainly comes up shining in other areas.
 
WINTER IN WARTIME (120 mins) is released on DVD (£17.99) and Blu-Ray (£24.99) by Kaledioscope Entertainment on Monday 31st May.  The DVD special features are Theatrical Trailer.
 
Jamie Garwood

 
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