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The Independent Critic

Martijn Lakemeier, Jamie Campbell Bower, Raymond Thiry, Yorick van Wageningen
Martin Koolhoven
Martin Koolhoven, Jan Terluow, Mieke de Jong, Paul Jan Nelissen
Rated R
103 Mins.
Sony Classics
Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack includes "Making of" Featurette

 "Winter in Wartime" DVD Review 
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Michiel (Martijn Lakemeier) and Theo (Jessie Van Driel) are two 13-year-old boys living in the occupied Dutch countryside during the closing weeks and months of World War II. When an English warplane crashes in a nearby village, the two young adventurers go exploring with Michiel being captured by the Nazis. Michiel is let off with a warning, mostly owing to his being the son of the village's mayor, Johan (Raymond Thiry), who has forged an uneasy relationship with the Nazis in an effort to protect the town and its people.

Michiel, for the most part, considers his father a coward for appeasing the Nazis while he deeply admires brother Ben (Yorick van Wageningen), a heroic resistance fighter. When an effort to help the resistance goes awry, Michiel sets out to be of aid himself and stumbles across Jack (Jamie Campbell Bower), the pilot of the crashed English plane who has been hiding in an underground shelter awaiting help from fellow resistance fighters that has not arrived. Seriously wounded, running out of food and needing to get back across the border to England, Jack must trust Michiel if he hopes to survive.

Winter in Wartime is, at its very essence, more a coming-of-age story than it is an actual war story. World War II and the circumstances that Michiel finds himself in serve as the framework for a story about a young man who must discover his strength, his values and what will help him become a man.

Winner of the Golden Calf Award at the 2009 Netherlands Film Festival before its theatrical release with Sony Classics, Winter in Wartime is now available on both DVD an Blu-Ray including an absolutely awesome DVD/Blu-Ray Combo pack.

Young Martijn Lakemeier gives an exceptional performance as Michiel, a young man who innocently begins to support the resistance only to find himself drawn into conflicts and situations far beyond his comprehension. Jamie Campbell Bower is solid as Jack, a resistance fighter who realizes the gravity of the situation and knows that he cannot trust anyone without significant risk.

D.P. Guido van Gennep lenses the film beautifully, creating a film that captures both the intimacy and ominous nature of the closing days of World War II as Germany becomes increasingly desperate to protect the lands they occupy. Based upon a semi-autobiographical novel by Jan Terluow, Winter in Wartime often evokes memories of the beautifully constructed Mother of Mine along with another wartime classic called Snow Treasure, a film centered around Norwegian children and how they outsmart the Nazis.

The film is mesmerizing as young Michiel bikes back and forth across snow covered roads once a plot is hatched to get Jack across the border by ferry, made all the more hazardous when Michiel must ask his sister (Melody Klaver), a nurse, for her assistance in getting Jack well enough for the trek.

Rated R primarily due to its language, Winter in Wartime is an excellent alternative for summer home video watchers who've grown tired of the plethora of mindless action flicks and CGI dominated cinema.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic