The Book Thief Review
By Lorraine Hirakawa / December 1

Ingredients: If you like ET, Shindler’s List, and My Girl, you will LOVE The Book Thief

In this adaptation of Markus Zuszk’s memorable novel, Brian Percival makes characters come to life. Camera angles, setting, and sound may enhance the film, but this is a film like the olden days - one that relies on magnificent acting. I must confess that I have read the book, and I loved it, so if there are plot holes, I didn’t notice them much because I fill them in automatically. 

Let’s start first by acknowledging the challenge of making a film that is narrated by Death without overdoing the cheesy voice over. Roger Allam’s voice looks after us as viewers as much as Death looks over those souls in the story. He guides us and even protects us from some of the more gruesome scenes in the film, allowing for dignity in death. Percival’s distinct lack of gore does not reduce the tragedy because, as it should be, the actors make us feel it all. Therefore, while the narration may seem trite to some movie goers, for book fans, the movie couldn’t have been made without it. 

Sophie Nelisse is reminiscent of the young Drew Barrymore in appearance but this 13 year old actress makes us love Liesel from the moment we see her eyes on the screen. She is poised, mature, and completely lovable. Opposite her, young Nico Liersch, Rudy, is the perfect boyhood sweetheart and best friend who any girl would want to share secrets with. 

Perhaps the best part of the film; however, is derived from the brilliant acting of Emily Watson (Rosa) and Geoffery Rush (Hans). Leisel’s adoptive parents are seemingly polar opposites, but their relationship, and the love they have for Leisel, permeates every scene. 

Although the movie doesn’t dwell on the Holocaust, and the Nazi violence becomes almost a back drop for the action of the film, viewers must remember that the book itself is not a “Holocaust story.” It was a very different approach to looking at Germany during WWII; the film stays true to that.

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