Staring: Sophie Nelisse, Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson
Director: Brian Percival
In Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief, Death narrates the story of Liesel, a young girl living in Germany just before and during World War II. After her father abandons her mother, little brother, and herself, her mother is forced to give her up for adoption. Her brother passes away due to illness on the way to meeting her foster parents, Hans and Rosa. Rose is intimidating and difficult to warm up to, to say the least, however Hans is instantly warm and welcoming, sneaking her candy and making her feel at home. It isn’t long before he discovers that Liesel cannot read, and so the two bond over words and books together, sparking a passion for reading and for stories in Liesel that is her comfort in a difficult time. Just when their lives settle into a comfortable routine, a Jewish boy named Max comes to their door, seeking sanctuary from Hans to settle a long-ago debt he owes the boy’s father from when he saved Hans’ own life.
What I Liked…
First and absolutely foremost, this movie was just flat out PRETTY. Everything about the way it was shot is just beautiful. Something I found to be very clever was how, at the beginning of the movie, when Liesel’s brother passes away and her mother is taking her to give her up, the movie is all high contrast of dark clothes, buildings, and vehicles on bright white snow covered ground. After Liesel beings to warm up to Hans and Rosa, so does the movie. Warm, comforting gold tones take over and not only is Leisel obviously feeling more at home, but the audience begins to feel at home as well.
Next I want to point out that the acting is just fantastic. Geoffrey Rush (Hans) is… Well, he’s Geoffrey Rush and he’s undeniably fantastic. He helps you settle into Liesel’s new life easily with her despite such turbulent times. Emily Watson (Rosa) gracefully comes off as a hard, strong woman but lets you know that she cares and is as full of love as anyone. And young 13 year-old Sophie Nelisse (Liesel) is astounding as she makes you laugh and makes you cry while you grow up with her in war-torn times. And then there’s adorable Nico Liersch (Rudy), who makes us laugh and warms our hearts while he chases after the love of his life. Let us not forget about Ben Schnetzer (Max). As soon as he and Liesel begin to bond we’re bonding right along with him, as he helps Liesel learn how to use her words and stretch her imagination. Together all of these amazing actors all work well together to make their way into your heart and make you feel just as at home as they are.
Something that really boils my potatoes when it comes to movies that take place in Europe, is accents. Ever notice that no matter where the movie takes place, everyone has an English accent. Everyone. Suddenly everyone is British. But they’re French, or whatever. What is that?? So this is what I liked: The Germans in this movie… sounded German. I just really loved that.
What I Didn’t Like…
I feel the need to tell you that I have not read the book (yet). So I can’t say that there was anything in the book that didn’t make to the screen that I wished was there because, well, I don’t know what’s in the book (yet). That being said…
There actually wasn’t anything I didn’t like about the movie. Except that it was so sad, but that’s just me not really liking sad movies and I can’t exactly count that against The Book Thief now can I? And I’m not going to say that I didn’t like that the movie made me kind of cry a little – because it did, and that never, NEVER happens – but I can’t say that either because, what? “I hate you, Book Thief, for making me love your characters!”
Yeah, no. This movie is just great.
All in All…
I loved this movie. I loved the characters and their coping mechanisms for their circumstances, I love the story development and how the movie ended. Watch this movie. If you enjoy historical fiction, coming-of-age films that are dramatic (and sad) but have well-timed comedic breaks, go see this movie. And take some tissues.