|Image from: http://www.collider.com|
The Book Thief, based on the award winning novel by Markus Zusak, tells the story of newly adopted Liesel Meminger, a young girl who as World War II breaks out finds comfort and meaning in life by stealing books and sharing them with those around her.
There’s nothing particularly shocking or groundbreaking about The Book Thief, a World War II drama which for the most part shies away from the horrors of War and instead uses it as a backdrop for a story about the innocence of childhood.
This isn’t a negative of the film in the slightest, but quite the contrary; it’s a somewhat refreshing change of pace to the mostly harrowing and hard watches that have dealt with the war previously. In fact, I really was quite charmed by this.
This is due to the well written and extremely likeable characters that make up the bulk of the story, performed excellently by those involved. I was impressed particularly with the two young leads, Nico Liersch and more so Sophie Nélisse, who put in genuinely sweet performances and manage to hold their own against acting heavyweights Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson.
The story itself is one which works on a number of levels and manages to portray the innocence of youth and the blossoming relationship between Liesel and her adoptive parents without becoming overly schmaltzy. Despite its lighter moments there is an undercurrent of danger that runs throughout, creating a lot more tension than I was expecting.
What I really like about the story is that it portrays the importance of words, literature and storytelling, and how they can affect and ultimately shape a young person’s views and education, a theme dealt with far more successfully than how The Monuments Men dealt with the importance of art.
I do have a couple of issues with the film; it does become dangerously melodramatic in its final few moments with one death scene making me cringe slightly, and I found the narration by ‘Death’ (which comes into play a few times during the film) very annoying, although this is a case of mis-casting above anything else.
These points aside, I came out of The Book Thief strangely uplifted. It’s a hauntingly good-looking, well put together film, which younger and older audiences will surely enjoy.