A Review of The Book Thief

My wife picked The Book Thief for our date night and I am happy that she did. She knew the name because I had mentioned the novel from school. I have not yet read the novel, but it was highly recommended by friends of mine in the MAT program.

We saw the movie on a very small screen at a discount movie theater in our area. The audience looked like the retirement home had bused in the occupants for a field trip. It made sense once we began watching the movie it became apparent why.

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Brian Percival delivers a beautifully shot period piece about a young girl's life in Germany during WWII. Little Liesel, played wonderfully by Sophie Nlisse, is taken into foster care and placed with Hans and Rosa(played equally brilliantly by Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson).

The movie follows Liesel as she tries to make new friends on Heaven Street. Percival does a wonderful job of presenting life in the back drop of Nazi opposition. He provides the regular German people with a humanity that is usually missing when people discuss Germany and WWII. Liesel makes friends with young Rudy (Nico Liersch), who is always trying to steal a kiss from her.

Just as Liesel starts to fit into her new world, Max(Ben Schnetzer) seeks shelter from Hans because of a debt Hans owes to Max's father. The family takes in Max, who is on the run because of his Jewish heritage, and hides him in the basement. Liesel becomes enamored with Max due to his mirrored loss of family.

Little Liesel survives the trials and tribulations of WWII by clinging to her love of books. She steals a book when her brother is killed, when she attends a book burning in Germany, and when she is expelled from the Burgermeister's house for reading in his library.

The acting in this movie is tremendous. Geoffrey Rush's, of Pirates of the Caribbean, portrayal of Hans is phenomenal. Playing the frail old painter fighting to maintain his humanity within a society demanding conformity to the party line provides great heart to his character. My wife began to tear up when Hans is conscripted following his standing up for a Jewish character being taken by the SS. His character is heart warming and sad at the time.

Emily Watson's rendition of Rosa is equally endearing. When she enters the movie, the audience meets a very frigid, miserable woman that doesn't really care about anyone. That all changes during Max's stay with the family, highlighted by Rosa breaking down at Liesel's school when Max wakes up from his coma. It is heart warming scene and the audience realizes that Rosa's bitterness is really just a facade she has erected to protect herself from the dangerous environment in which she lives.

In my opinion,little Rudy was the star of every scene in which he was seen.His determined courtship of Liesel had me rooting for him.I was waiting for Liesel to finally give in and give him the kiss that he definitely earned. His character was smart and funny throughout the movie. I actually had a laugh-out-loud moment when Rudy wiped mud all over him and ran a sprint pretending to be Jesse Owens.

While I thought the acting the movie was brilliant, I thought the story telling was patchy at times. While not having read the novel, I had the feeling that Percival was trying to include all the novel without making cuts that would make the movie more complete.

Point in case, when the family takes in Max, I waited for it to be meaningful. Would his death affect Liesel's life, or would they get caught? He stays with them for an undetermined amount of time and then leaves to protect them.Was there a greater danger now than for all that time he stayed with them?I felt like I was missing the point of him being there.

Then there is when Hans gets conscripted as a punishment for standing up for the Jewish character and returns two scenes later. Why show him being sent away and return so quickly? Did it advance the plot of the movie? I didn't feel like it did especially with what happens in the next few scenes.

For my wife's part, she didn't feel like having the narrator be Death was necessary, but she didn't mind it either. I actually liked Death's part in the storytelling.

Overall, I really liked this movie. Even though I felt that the story was fragmented in parts, the acting and the filming more than made up for it.I would certainly recommend this movie to anyone and will be getting the dvd copy when it comes out.

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Posted in Internet Post Date 02/26/2021


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