Despite only one Oscar nomination for original score (by the living legend John Williams), “The Book Thief” is a hidden treasure. I never read the book, but I am now hoping to. I am certain that the readers of the book who have not seen the film yet will not be disappointed.
The movie tells the story of young Liesel (Sophie Nelisse, who carries the role and most of the movie on her little shoulders wonderfully), living in pre WW2 Germany. She is sent to live with foster parents after her mother is banished by Hitler. Her step parents, Hans and Rosa, are perfectly casted by the always great Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson. Rush is a little more sympathetic and easy-going, while Watson runs the household with a tight fist. The two actors are truly remarkable here.
There is also a nice boy next door named Rudy (Nico Liersch), a budding track star and immediately drawn to Liesel. It is a great filmed example of puppy love.
After a while, she begins to learn to read (with Hans’s help), and is brought to a book burning. Shortly after, Hans takes in an old friend’s son named Max (Ben Schnetzer), a Jew.
I will not go any further, and let you discover what happens from there. What I will say is that one of the key ingredients to a great movie is when you have characters you care about. When some of the characters died, I had felt a loss inside me I did not expect.
Parents, there is nothing wrong with this movie besides (obvious) war violence, swearing, and intense scenes. To be honest, I would rather see younger people who like “The Hunger Games” series see “The Book Thief” instead. By the end of the movie, I was thinking of another young woman from the second World War, and the true words that she spoke.
People are, truly, good at heart.
Overall: 4 Stars ****