The Book Thief

Film, Drama
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The Book Thief

Narrated by Death himself (solemn-voiced Roger Allam) but, alas, not adapted by him, this sumptuous, faintly unrealistic version of Markus Zusak’s best-seller bypasses wartime horror at every juncture. Angelic orphan Liesel (Sophie Nélisse) arrives in fictional Molching, Germany, in 1938 with separation anxiety and an inability to read. Kindly foster parents Hans (Geoffrey Rush, mainly defined by his jaunty accordion playing) and Rosa (Emily Watson, sweet under a tough exterior) fix both problems in what feels like a matter of weeks. Soon, Nazis start roughing up the townsfolk, but Liesel has unerring moral instincts, hiding a brotherly Jew in the cellar and softening hearts all around, while developing into an avid reader.    

Where the book had a kernel of intellectual irony to it—words betray a nation—this drama goes shamelessly for the heart. Viewers can do better when it comes to child’s-eye perspectives (the recent Lore, about a Hitler Youth left to fend for herself, is breathtakingly bold), and both Zusak and the filmmakers grab at a randomly downbeat conclusion that feels incidental to the evil of the time.

By: Joshua Rothkopf


Release details

Rated: 12A
Release date: Friday February 14 2014
Duration: 131 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Brian Percival
Cast: Geoffrey Rush
Emily Watson
Sophie Nélisse

Average User Rating

3.5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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2 people listening

This film seems very laboured right from the start.  Both the narration, and dialogue between characters, was unrealistic, and in the case of the children was too mature for their ages.  The story itself is good, but at 2hrs 11mins, it takes too long to tell.  I was relieved when it finished.

I tend to agree with the reviewer and John Curry. Its far too schmaltzy and unrealistic. Its long, slow and dull. A poor 2 star film.

Handsomely mounted but slow and stodgy, this never quite convinces. The narration, in particular, just doesn`t work and seems tacked on from an entirely different movie.

I think this is a great movie. You can imagine how terrible was that historical period of human history but without feel depressed....