Winter in Wartime

            Based on the bestselling novel by Jan Terlouw, Winter in Wartime is a compelling coming-of-age tale which takes place in Nazi-occupied Holland during World War II. It has many of the expected moments of a coming-of-age tale, including the discovery of the female sex and even a little bit of spying in order to see some flesh from an attractive young household visitor. More important, however, is the spying that our protagonist does for the benefit of the Resistance. Winter in Wartime is far more interested in the awful things which are done during wartime, and these difficult choices seem more significant to our hero. In a strange twist, we almost wish for our protagonist to be allowed more youth, and the final image of the film somehow provides this despite all which must be endured by the war.

            In the small snow-covered town during 1945, the thirteen-year-old son of the Mayor finds himself tangled in the effort to remove the Nazis. Although his father attempts to stay on good terms with the Germans, his son Michiel (Martin Lakemeier) makes his own decisions. When his next-door-neighbor and friend leaves him with a message that is meant to be passed on, Michiel purposefully involves himself. The note leads him to a wounded British paratrooper who is hiding in the woods, and Michiel takes it upon himself to help the soldier to safety.

            While Winter in Wartime is a thoughtful and often introspective film, this does not mean it is without action. There is a remarkable amount of suspense and even a fair amount of gunplay for a coming-of-age tale. It blends a remarkable amount of material into an average length of film, while never seeming forced. This is truly the sign of good filmmaking. From the screenplay to editing, this is a wonderfully executed film.            

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