Novel thief steals show

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - MOVIES - Leigh Paatsch

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

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