|2013||131 Min||War . Drama|
While subjected to the horrors of WWII Germany, young Liesel finds solace by stealing books and sharing them with others. Under the stairs in her home, a Jewish refuge is being sheltered by her adoptive parents.
|Actors:||Nico Liersch , Emily Watson , Geoffrey Rush , Kirsten Block , Rainer Reiners , Gotthard Lange , Julian Lehmann , Heike Makatsch , Sophie Nélisse , Roger Allam|
This is one of the best movies of the year, featuring one of the most perfect endings of any movie in recent memory.
The resulting film has some wrong notes and touches of preciousness, but mostly it's a moving and effective presentation of life under Nazism, as seen from an unusual angle.
The simplicity of Michael Petroni’s script seems a drawback at first. But skilled director Brian Percival (Downton Abbey) slowly, effectively tightens the vise as evil intrudes into the life of this child.
Overall, it’s engaging and serves its young audience well — a rare Holocaust movie that doesn’t strain to become Oscar bait.
Books themselves become the story's key symbol, representing the past and future, loss and possibility, of a place that's ground zero for some of history's darkest days.
The children may tug at the heartstrings, but it’s the adults who give the film its heart.
The Book Thief has been brought to the screen with quiet effectiveness and scrupulous taste by director Brian Percival and writer Michael Petroni.
It’s respectable, safe, intelligent – and a bit dull.
"Life Is Beautiful" may or may not have set a benchmark for tackiness in Holocaust cinema, but The Book Thief offers a hypothetical way in which the former might have been worse: At least it wasn’t narrated by Death.
It would make for a pretty ghastly pageant if not for smart, understated turns by Watson and Geoffrey Rush as the charmingly Teutonic couple who rescue both Liesel and a stranded Jew (Ben Schnezter) — not to mention the movie itself — with honorable matter-of-factness.
Then Death feels the need to intrude again. And again. If his accent weren't so charming, his voice so resonant, it would be depressing, all this meddling and mortality.
Anchoring the story is 9-year-old Liesel Meminger (Sophie Nélisse), whose first scenes are riveting.
The Book Thief has its moments of brilliance, thanks in large part to an adept cast. But the movie about a girl adopted by a German couple during World War II also crystallizes the perils of book adaptations.
Some good performances, impeccable craft and good intentions can’t compensate for a lack of dramatic urgency and emotional heft. The Book Thief is effective, but not effective enough.
It’s hard not to be moved by the story, but it’s only a handful of great performances that save it from underwhelming. Steal the book instead.
You may come away more impressed by the intentions than by the achievements.
The movie’s strong sense of empathy, enhanced by several noteworthy performances, ought to engage most viewers.
The Book Thief renders a dark history in the most bland and inoffensive hues. Most of its success relies on our foreknowledge of history. Its own efforts are hollow, squandering a good cast on lazy writing.
The film is unobjectionable, sentimental, and not a little dull.
It relays an uplifting story that, ill-advisedly, is not so much Holocaust-era as Holocaust-adjacent, determined to steer clear of too much discomfort.
As a showcase for accomplished performers tugging heart strings in a holiday awards season, it's perfectly serviceable.
Directed by Brian Percival, best known for his work on "Downton Abbey," the film has the similar quality of a well-appointed historical soap opera.
The Book Thief covers a large span of time, but the film's episodic nature, often moving from one incident to the next with little time to pause or reflect, often obscures that fact and hinders an evocation of the cumulative effect the war has on the psyche of not just the Hubermanns, but their neighbors, too.
An embarrassing gut-punch of unfiltered schmaltz, but its sympathy for the devil-style humanism is well-meaning.
The Book Thief crams story after story into such a small space that it can’t realize any of them in depth.
Where the book had a kernel of intellectual irony to it — words betray a nation — this drama goes shamelessly for the heart.
A misfire in far too many meaningful aspects, The Book Thief is so bad that it's tough to decide whether it's better used as a sleep aid or watched while under the influence as an object of derision.
In the end, there's a distinct air of solipsism to this tale.
On the not-much-of-a-plus side, at over two hours long, sitting through The Book Thief engenders in the viewer some serious sympathy for the interminable plight of poor, sickly Max, concealed below stairs in a dank, dark corner of the house on Himmelstrasse.
The Book Thief is just too tidy to have much impact.
The Book Thief is a shameless piece of Oscar-seeking Holocaust kitsch.
1. Wiegenlied: Guten Abend, Gut Nacht, Op. 49, No. 4 ( Writer: Markus Zusak )
2. Deutschlandlied ( Writer: Markus Zusak )
3. Die Fledermaus ( Writer: Markus Zusak )
4. The Blue Danube ( Writer: Markus Zusak )
5. Kampflied Der National Sozialisten ( Writer: Markus Zusak )
6. Herbstweisen ( Performer: Edith Lorand Orchestra )
7. Silent Night ( Writer: Markus Zusak )
8. Die Gedanken Sind Frei ( Writer: Markus Zusak )
9. The Book Thief ( Performer: John Williams Itunes )
10. Finale ( Performer: John Williams Itunes )
11. One Small Fact ( Performer: John Williams Itunes )
12. Learning to Read ( Performer: John Williams Itunes )
13. The Journey to Himmel Street ( Performer: John Williams Itunes )
14. Rudy Is Taken ( Performer: John Williams Itunes )
15. The Departure of Max ( Performer: John Williams Itunes )
16. Ilsa's Library ( Performer: John Williams Itunes )
17. Max and Liesel ( Performer: John Williams Itunes )
18. Book Burning ( Performer: John Williams Itunes )
19. The Train Station ( Performer: John Williams Itunes )
20. Revealing the Secret ( Performer: John Williams Itunes )
21. Rescuing the Book ( Performer: John Williams Itunes )
22. Max Lives ( Performer: John Williams Itunes )
23. The Visitor at Himmel Street ( Performer: John Williams Itunes )
24. Learning to Write ( Performer: John Williams Itunes )
25. Writing to Mama ( Performer: John Williams Itunes )
26. The Snow Fight ( Performer: John Williams Itunes )
27. New Parents and a New Home ( Performer: John Williams Itunes )
28. I Hate Hitler! ( Performer: John Williams Itunes )
29. Jellyfish ( Performer: John Williams Itunes )
30. Foot Race ( Performer: John Williams Itunes )