Title – The Book Thief (2013)
Director – Brian Percival (A Boy Called Dad)
Cast – Sophie Nelisse, Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, Nico Liersch, Ben Schnetzer
Plot – Living through the horrors of Nazi run Germany in World War 2, young girl Liesel Meminger (Nelisse) finds hope in the written word along with the love of life from her friend Rudy (Liersch), her adoptive father Hans (Rush) and the family Jewish stowaway Max (Schnetzer). But in World War 2, Death is never far away.
“When life robs you, sometimes you have to rob it back”
Review by Eddie on 26/05/2014
Adapting Markus Zusak’s seriously popular book that has a ripe awards and box office subject matter – one would suspect that The Book Thief would have been a resounding success both commercially and critically but instead what occurred was a muted release with an equally low key response from fans and in the aftermath of its cinematic run The Book Thief will be lucky to live on in people’s minds thanks to a film treatment that inspires nothing within thanks to a pedestrian effort from almost all involved.
There is no question about The Book Thief being a very pretty motion picture with a nice visual design but the films lovely and well-designed settings only but harbor a story that sadly fails to translate the emotional investment to many readers had obviously found within the book, what is left is a cold and distant film that only ever shows brief glimpses of characters becoming something more for the viewers to invest in. Director Brian Percival’s tone is too subdued, even the frequent appearance of death as the tales narrator fails to liven up proceedings with a feeling of the filmmakers not gaging correctly how to use Death where the book succeeded in having him as a valuable contributor to proceedings. With a misstep behind the scenes the film does win points for unearthing a very strong acting talent in the form of young actress Sophie Nelisse.
Surrounded by acting stalwarts Geoffrey Rush and the miscast Emily Watson, 12 year old actress Nelisse does an exemplary job as wise beyond her years Liesel and she is well supported by other young thespians Nico Liersch as the enthusiastic and often quite charming Rudy and Ben Schnetzer as the film’s most unlucky participant Max (seriously be careful of those melting snowmen!). With these actors all doing a fine job it’s still hard to completely buy into these people completely with the films meandering pace and stale direction constantly reminding us that proceedings should be a lot more thrilling than they are, even sure-fire composer John Williams score can’t escape the feeling of being good yet not far from average.
The Book Thief should of made a much bigger mark than it did and while not being an in any way terrible movie is also a movie that fails to justify its existence as a two hour motion picture thanks to some underdeveloped characters, tame direction and a failure to maximise what could have been some very emotionally heavy yet rewarding experiences.
2 and a half dangerous melting snowmen out of 5