Director: Brian Percival
Staring: Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, Sophie Nélisse
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Rated: PG-13 (For some violence and intense depiction of thematic material)
We are told much of this by our narrator Death, who takes a keen interest in Liesel. Watching so much evil that human's do to each other maddens him, but he takes comfort when he gets to know a genuinely good person that lives in the world. His purpose for narrating the film isn't really clear. With the exception of one pivotal moment in the story, Death seems content to point out stuff that is happening on screen while we watch, as if we can't be trusted to follow the story ourselves. I wanted to pull him aside and tell him that it wasn't necessary to narrate as many of the events in the movie needed no explanation. By this point you may be wondering what “The Book Thief” is even referring to. It refers to the fact that the Germans hold a public book burning and Liesel has courage to take one of the books out of the fire. Does the fact that she does this mean anything? I suspect it means that she has enough wisdom to know that she's being robbed of history. What this has to do with the rest of the film is anybody's guess.
The rest of the time she is keeping the fact that her family is hiding a Jew a secret, a story element that takes up too much time for a small payout in the end. I brought up the novel earlier in the movie because “The Book Thief” feels incomplete. I was never bored by the movie and the acting is wonderful. Sophie Nélisse is a wonderful find as the title character, as she is instantly likable and has very real feelings. It's also nice to see established actors like Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson still finding great roles this late in their career. When the film ended though I had this surprisingly empty feeling inside. How could something that was so interesting not leave a mark on me? Is it just the fact that I've seen too many stories about World War II and I feel like I'm going through the motions at this point? “The Book Thief” doesn't bring anything new to the table for what has now become its own genre. Why couldn't this film be more about the destruction of books and the Nazi's efforts for total culture control? That movie I haven't seen yet.
Parents, there is some war violence and minor language, but otherwise acceptable for most ages. Recommended for ages 8 and up.