Winter in Wartime (Oorlogswinter) is a World War II adventure story set in a Nazi-occupied Netherlands village and presented from the point-of-view of Michiel (Martijn Lakemeier), a 13-year-old local boy. The film has the blue-gray colors and somber tone one expects from foreign-language movies dealing with people oppressed by Nazis – the novelty here comes from the point-of-view and director Martin Koolhoven's stylistic shifts.
Michiel's life consists of glowering at his father Johan (Raymond Thiry), mayor of the town, squabbling with his sister Erica (Melody Klaver), a young nurse, and looking up to his Uncle Ben (Yorick van Wageningen), a resistance fighter visiting from some exotic locale. His days take a sudden dramatic turn when he witnesses a airplane crash in the forest and eventually ends up tending to Jack (Jamie Campbell Bower), the wounded British pilot of the plane.
The kid's big adventure gets progressively more complicated, and as the story moves along, it starts looking more less like an atmospheric period piece and more like a thriller, from the plot points to the camera work. The film is adapted from Jan Terlouw's 1972 semi-autobiographical novel and combines a ring of truth in its portrayal of people and places with a storyline incorporating close calls, a shocking surprise and a climax full of derring-do. The acting is good, and the film is visually impressive. Winter in Wartime moves into pulpy territory – pretty nervy for the genre – but it held me all the way.