Rating: ***

Verdict: WWII Dutch teen adventure skates on thin ice.

Something you don't expect to see in yet another film about resistance heroism in Nazi-occupied Europe: a stagecoach chase.

Well, it's not really a stagecoach, more of a hansom cab. And our heroes - a downed British pilot and the Dutch teenager who has been helping him -aren't being chased by Injuns but motorcycle-sidecar troops. Though the pair do pull off the old cowboy trick of unhitching the carriage, jumping on the horse and galloping off. It's a very boy's own moment in a movie, that, though based on a teen novel, can't seem to decide whether it's rollicking adventure or - especially when the soundtrack is in violin-barrage mode - a grown-up wartime melodrama of survival, loyalty and betrayal. And it doesn't do either particularly well.

Told through the eyes of young Michiel (a solid Lakemeier), Winter in Wartime is smart enough to paint its characters in shades of grey. Michiel despairs at how his father, who is the village mayor, seems to kowtow to the Germans. That, in turn, spurs him into action when an RAF Mosquito crashes nearby and he finds himself the surviving airman's only hope of escape, while his older sister, a nurse, takes a shine to the flyboy.

But Michiel's aid to the pilot brings with it unintended tragic consequences.

The film offers a chill-inducing atmosphere of both the period and the season but its few attempts at action - including the aforementioned chase - come off as half-hearted, while its plot grows increasingly contrived right up to its twist of an ending.

So what starts out as an engaging portrait of real Dutch courage becomes less convincing as drama along the way. That said, those with personal connections to the period or the place possibly won't have the same resistance.

Cast: Martijn Lakemeier, Yorick van Wageningen, Jamie Campbell Bower
Director: Martin Koolhoven
Rating: M (violence & offensive language)
Running time: 104 mins (subtitled)