The Book Thief (Film) Review

The Book Thief

Released: 8th November 2013
Director: Brian Percival
Starring: Sophie Nelisse, Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, Ben Schnetzer, Nico Liersch
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 125

A bit too safe in its handling of its Nazi Germany setting, The Book Thief counters its constraints with a respectful tone and strong performances.

Based on the beloved international bestselling book, The Book Thief tells the story of an extraordinary, spirited young girl sent to live with a foster family in WWII Germany. Intrigued by the only book she brought with her, she begins collecting books as she finds them. With the help of her new parents and a secret guest under the stairs, she learns to read and creates a magical world that inspires them all.

David Denby (New Yorker) said:
"Markus Zusak's enormously successful young-adult novel seems to have been adapted as a movie for middle-aged children."

Mick LaSalle (San Francisco Chronicle) said:
"Has some wrong notes and touches of preciousness, but mostly it's a moving and effective presentation of life under Nazism, as seen from an unusual angle."

Claudia Puig (USA Today) said:
"With superficial sleekness, it flattens the intricate story to excessive simplicity."

Stephanie Merry (Washington Post) said:
"The movie tries heartily to contain writer Markus Zusak's myriad plot points, but the result is a rushed conclusion, which tempers the intended tear-jerking climax."

Peter Howell (Toronto Star) said:
"The narrative rushes through Nazi book burnings, Kristallnacht, the roundup of Jews and Hitler's fury over the Olympic triumph of Jesse Owens, a surface treatment of major events that barely conveys the horror of the times."

Ben Sachs (Chicago Reader) said:
"This plush, mawkish period drama, adapted from Markus Zusak's 2005 best-seller, might be useful as a means of introducing the Holocaust to small children, but it's indefensible on almost any other terms."

Michael Phillips (Chicago Tribune) said:
""The Book Thief" tries so hard to warm our hearts amid grotesque suffering, it goes a bit mad under the strain."

Liam Lacey (Globe and Mail) said:
"At times, the movie feels ... like morbid biblio-fetishism."

Richard Corliss (TIME Magazine) said:
"Judicious and well acted, with some fine details of human strength and frailty. But its ultimate asset may be to lead young audiences back to the book ..."

Bilge Ebiri (Vulture) said:
"We keep waiting for something eye-opening, and we rarely get it. By and large, The Book Thief is serviceable, sleek, and stodgy."

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