Novel thief steals show
THE BOOK THIEF ( PG) Director: Brian Percival ( A Boy Called Dad) Starring: Sophie Nelisse, Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, Nico Liersch, Ben Schnetzer
BASED on the 2005 best- seller by Markus Zusak, The Book Thief details the experiences of a young girl living in Germany during World War II.
As this moving drama begins, Liesel ( Sophie Nelisse) is letting go of the last fragments of an already broken family.
Her parents, both Communists, can no longer look after their two children under the Nazi regime.
Liesel and her brother are to be taken in by a childless couple on the outskirts of Munich. But after an arduous journey at the height of winter, only Liesel makes it to the new home; her brother has died along the way.
Death is a regular occurrence in The Book Thief. In fact, Death himself is the narrator of this tale.
At irregular intervals, this not- so- grim reaper ( voiced by British actor Roger Allam) interjects to explain how and why the time has come for certain people.
This unusual linking device will be considered an acquired taste by some, particularly when the terrifying shadow of the Holocaust looms across later parts of the fi lm.
Liesel’s new guardians are struggling signwriter Hans Hubermann ( Geoffrey Rush) and his wife Rosa ( Emily Watson).
Liesel also befriends the boy next door, a likeable tyke named Rudy ( Nico Liersch) who idolises the great American sprinter Jesse Owens.
While Liesel often races Rudy through the streets, her true love is the printed word. Hans has taught her how to read and – as the title of the fi lm implies – she will do anything to get her hands on a good book.
A blanket ban on authors not approved by the Nazis makes Liesel’s quest for literacy all the more dangerous.
The Hubermann household is also nervously defying the powers that be by sheltering a young Jewish fugitive ( Ben Schnetzer), to whom Hans owes a lifelong debt.
Impeccably acted and beautifully scripted, The Book Thief is an absorbing effort that captures everything that was so widely admired about the original novel.
There has been criticism in some quarters of the fi lm’s picture- book production design, which some believe puts an attractive sheen on an ugly historic period.
This may indeed be a valid observation, but there can be denying the fact The Book Thief has both its head and heart in the right place at all times.
Now showing State and Village cinemas