review: the book thief (2013)

Ok, so I wasn’t as moved by this film as I thought I was going to be. The description and info for this movie built it up to be an excellent one, and while it was ok, it didn’t quite meet my pre-watching-established standards.

Synopsis (IMDB): While subjected to the horrors of World War II Germany, young Liesel finds solace by stealing books and sharing them with others. In the basement of her home, a Jewish refugee is being sheltered by her adoptive parents.

With this synopsis, subject matter, and with Netflix deeming it to be under the “tearjerker” category, I expected to bawl. Instead, I found myself shedding a single tear. Just one. And it was very much forced.

Starting with a sequence of floating over clouds, overlaid with the narration by the voice of Death itself, the film established itself to be based in sort of mythical, but very real, reality. It sort of reminded me of Pan’s Labyrinth actually. This got me really excited, because that film was just great. Instead, the plot turned out to be sort of dull actually. The concept/idea of The Book Thief was great, it just unfortunately wasn’t executed very well.

The actors and actresses did fine jobs. Sophie Nélisse did a fine job as the curious protagonist, Liesel Meminger. I also loved Geoffrey Rush as Nélisse’s character’s adopted father, Hans Hubermann. My last two shout outs go to Nico Liersch as Liesel’s young, romantic friend, and Ben Schnetzer as the Jewish refugee, and Liesel’s brotherly figure. All of the male actors I mentioned just mastered this smile that would melt my heart every time. Bravo to them.

Unfortunately, the screenplay was dull, the plot was ok – as mentioned previously, and the editing didn’t particularly stand out as cleverly executed. At 131 minutes, this film was too long and I found myself just wanting it to end so I could go to bed. Needless to say, I probably won’t be reading the book anytime soon – although the book may probably will be significantly better than the film adaptation.

Final note, if you are in the mood for a good Holocaust film, I recommend The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.

just my rating: ★★★

Other reviews on The Book Thief:
Arts and Culture – Life and Death in The Book Thief
Curious Martens – The Book Thief
Created BYRCW – Losing Two Hours to “The Book Thief”

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2 thoughts on “review: the book thief (2013)

  1. Nice review…as you know (given your link to my post…thanks for that, btw), we agree on our basic analysis of the movie.

    A young friend of mine informed me that the book is vastly better than the movie and that the director/writer of the film played havoc with some of the plot points. Sticking to the original idea may have led to a longer movie, but it sounds like it would have been much more sensible and satisfying.

    I also have to agree with you that “The Boy In The Striped Pajamas” is a vastly better movie…I am desperate to find a copy of the screenplay because in many ways, I think it may be the perfect story from all its elements (e.g., plot structure, character development, tone, etc.)

    I do have to say, I loved your comment at the end about people being “in the mood for a good Holocaust film”. Please don’t take offence, I mean this as no disrespect, but it just sounds so lighthearted.

    In any event, I look forward to reading more of your reviews and thoughts….best…Randy

    • Thanks so much! And of course, loved your review.

      I have a tendency to speak of serious things in light tones, you’ll probably get more of that as you read my future posts :P
      And yep, sometimes we have this weird craving to see horrible, sad things and cry about them for our enjoyment. It’s a strange phenomenon.

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