An admirable little film that is both bleak and hopeful.
When war breaks out in 1938 Germany, young Liesel Meminger and her newly-adoptive parents are put to the test when a Jewish man comes looking for somewhere to hide. Along with the Jewish man Max, Liesel’s father helps her learn how to read, and she quickly becomes obsessed with reading anything she can get her hands on. And after a number of hardships and struggles such as mass Nazi book-burnings, she’s forced to “borrow” books any way she can.
A throwback to the solid family dramas of the 80’s and 90’s (complete with a score from John Williams), The Book Thief may not be perfect, but it is touching. Its depiction of the horrors of WWII may be a little too tame, but lovable performances from Geoffrey Rush and Sophie Nelisse give the film heart, and the life-affirming story will help audiences remember to cherish the lives we have.
+ Beautiful cinematography
+ Lovable performances from Rush and Nelisse
+ Plenty of heartwarming moments
– The narration by “Death” can come off as awkward
– Falls into many familiar trappings of family dramas
– Glosses over many of the horrors of WWII
The Book Thief is a solid family drama that may feel a little familiar, but remains a hopeful perspective on finding the positives in a negative world.
The Book Thief is rated PG-13 for “violence” and “intense material.” The violence is never glorified, and there is not much offensive in the way of language. It should be a safe bet for older kids and up.
© Matt Tory, 2013.