The Book Thief Review

The Book Thief

Death is coming.

Ok, so that’s not quite as sexy as the whole “Winter is coming” mantra you hear bandied about all the time in Game Of Thrones, but for one little blonde haired girl with a penchant for stealing books in 1930’s Germany, this sure does ring true.

Being something of a gentleman, death decides to visit our little book thief’s brother first, which is how he and we are introduced to Liesel.

Torn apart by grief as well as a creeping sense of doom many folk in Europe who didn’t have the right name, face or political beliefs felt, Liesel’s mother decides that the best thing she can do for her adorable aryan poster child is to let her be adopted by a good German family.

And in this time of war, where charitable folk are given greater rations for taking in strays, Liesel’s lucky enough to find a new home.

A new family, well they’re a lot harder to come by.

But the gentle charm of her new adopted father Hans puts her at ease, even if this feels at odds with the hard and strict approach of his own fraulein and new mother Liesel.

A stranger in a strange fatherland where burning books and far worse are positively encouraged, our blonde haired heroine soon learns to take solace in words where she can escape her new reality.

And this habit of breaking rules turns out to be good preparation for our rebellious Liesel, as soon both she and her new family will have to break some that have far more serious consequences than merely stealing books.

Based on the award winning novel by Markus Zusak, The Book Thief is a bittersweet tale about the life of a young girl trying to live through nazi era germany.

It’s a gentle and sombre movie that helps remind of us some things from our not too distant past that shouldn’t be forgotten.

Even so, I doubt The Book Thief is going to receive the same sort of critical acclaim Zusak’s novel did.

As charming and worthy as it may be, with Geoffrey Rush and newcomer Sophie Nelisse both drawing you into the struggles of young Liesel, The Book Thief never quite manages to make you feel all those wonderful things that great films do.

It’s good, but never more than this; and that’s no bad thing.

After all, death is coming, so being good in the face of this is all we can ask for.

Jonathan Campbell

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February 2014
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