Review: A Dutch boy loses his innocence in 'Winter in Wartime'

Martijn Lakemeier is Michiel, who learns harsh realities of war.

Sony Pictures Classics

Martijn Lakemeier is Michiel, who learns harsh realities of war.

Winter in Wartime (R) (99 min.) — Michiel (Martijn Lakemeier) is a Dutch lad living under Nazi occupation who doesn't comprehend the dangers of that condition. As the son of his town's mayor, he is shielded from accusation and abduction. The Nazis are merely toy soldiers to discreetly mock and evade on bicycle rides until Michiel learns the hard way that war isn't a game.

A playmate disappears, but not before handing Michiel directions to a secret bunker in the woods. Inside is the British resistance fighter Jack (Jamie Campbell Bower), badly injured and desperate to escape. Michiel is torn between aiding his new friend and adhering to the advice of his uncle Ben (Yorick van Wageningen), who warns him against getting involved with the war.

Director Martin Koolhoven turns Michiel's dilemma into compelling, if familiar, drama. Michiel's gradual loss of innocence is hastened by what he perceives as betrayals by loved ones: His father (Raymond Thiry) tolerates the Germans to a toadying degree, Ben isn't the resistance fighter he had admired, and his sister Erica (Melody Klaver) takes a liking to Jack. When the occupation crosses his doorstep, Michiel takes increasingly drastic and mature measures.

Nothing about Koolhoven's film is stunning, but it's a solid piece of work, occasionally feeling as tense as life-and-death situations with Nazis should be. The performances are fine with Lakemeier acquitting himself well in his first screen role. Shown with English subtitles. B (BayWalk 20 in St. Petersburg)

Steve Persall, Times film critic

Review: A Dutch boy loses his innocence in 'Winter in Wartime' 04/27/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 27, 2011 5:30am]

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