Why are boys driven to play war? Is it a culture that romanticizes it or a deeper yearning to connect to the darker aspects of manhood?

Why are boys driven to play war? Is it a culture that romanticizes it or a deeper yearning to connect to the darker aspects of manhood?

The Dutch import "Winter in Wartime" is told through the eyes of a boy. It's at times somber and at times an adventurous yarn that could be spun around a campfire.

Michiel (Martijn Lakemeier) is a 13-year-old boy living in a Nazi-occupied village in the waning days of World War II.

His father (Raymond Thiry) is the town's mayor, who hesitantly cooperates with the Nazis because it's the easiest path. Michiel disagrees with his father's methods and finds himself admiring his uncle (Yorick van Wageningen), a resistance fighter.

The war literally crash-lands in Michiel's back yard in the form of a British pilot, whom Michiel protects from the Nazis.

I'm torn on "Wartime" - at times it's a fine drama, but it suffers from some jarring moments that strain credibility.

Director Martin Koolhoven keeps his film firmly focused on Michiel, which is both blessing and curse.

The occupation is more of a persistent annoyance with an underlying malevolence, keeping the tension on a slow boil.

But moments of great drama are outweighed by storytelling that is decidedly average. I wish it was just a bit more grown up.