BASED on the acclaimed novel by Markus Zusak, The Book Thief is set in Germany from 1938 until the end of the Second World War.
Young Liesel Melinger [Sophie Nelisse] is sent to live with foster parents Hans [Geoffrey Rush] and Rosa Hubermann [Emily Watson] by her communist sympathising mother.
As she grows up on the ironically named Heaven Street she tries to make sense of the worsening situation around her as the Nazis tighten their grip on everyday life.
Liesel is our focus and, despite being unable to read, we follow her thirst for knowledge to the extent that she is searching through smouldering piles of burnt books for great works.
She steals them for Max (Ben Schnetzer), a young Jewish man whom the family are hiding in their basement, and he encourages her to write.
There are some very heart-warming moments which makes it clear that Director Brian Percival and screenwriter Michael Petroni have looked to create a very young adult commentary on the Holocaust. Indeed, while all this is going on you only see snippets of Jews being hounded, shop front windows being smashed and burning books which only serve as context to the events in Liesel’s life.
The film is narrated by Death, voiced by Roger Allam, who paints a depressing picture but it doesn’t compensate for the lack of dramatic urgency or emotional heft in the story although there are some good performances and some exquisite craft.
Film: The Book Thief
Director: Brian Percival
Starring: Sophie Nélisse,
Emily Watson, Geoffrey Rush, Nico Liersch