“The Resistance Banker”

Slow and Tense

Amos Lassen

Directed by Joram Lursen, “The Resistance Banker” is the real-life account of Walraven van Hall (Barry Atsma), a Dutch banker who defrauded the Germans of millions, which he then funneled to the Dutch Resistance. He is helped by his brother Gijs (Jacob Derwig).

Being set in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands, we see regular citizens trying to live their lives under German heel something we have not seen much of in the past. The film is propelled by gritty realism and an authentic recreation of a Nazi occupied country making this an impressive film.

We follow the Van Halls as the two set out to try to slow the German war machine by siphoning money out of the bank and to the resistance. Things are not that simple and what we have is a methodically paced game of cat and mouse as the Resistance tries to stop the Nazis as they learn what they’re doing. They must try to remain undetected and checking if there are any spies in their midst.

The film is told entirely in Dutch but I understand that in the United States, the film is dubbed. “The Resistance Banker” is gripping thriller but it assumes a bit more familiarity with the story than is probably reasonable, yet it’s still a competently made and interesting World War II drama.

The film is too slow in the beginning and the construction of the underground bank by Wally and Gijs is a little too easy. This does not build the tension and sense of risk that we would expect but it all picks up in the second half. The growing Resistance needs more money and the brothers have to procure from somewhere. The increasingly suspicious Nazis come to realize exactly how that Resistance is being financed. There is a grand scheme to exchange promissory notes for counterfeits benefiting most from the built-up excitement about what is going on. Perhaps if there was a bit more energy and not as many tense moments, the film would fare better but at any rate, I found it totally engrossing.

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