Plot: It’s Nazi Germany and Liesel has been sent to stay with new parents. It seems a strict and formidable place to live, especially for a young girl who can neither read nor write. But the rough exterior covers a gentle heart and Liesel thrives under the guardianship of her new parents and close friends.
But Germany is dangerous. Especially for those not sympathetic with the regime. Liesel discovers what it means to keep a secret when her new parents hide a Jew in their basement. In times of hardship, Liesel learns what it means to have a loving family.
Quote: `One small fact: you are going to die. Despite every effort, no one lives forever. Sorry to be such a spoiler. My advice is when the time comes, don’t panic. It doesn’t seem to help.`
Opinion: I read The Book Thief a few years ago. I don’t properly remember it, but I do remember thinking it was one of the most powerful books I have read. For that reason alone I was intrigued to see how the film had been handled and whether it had the same impact as the book.
The fact I can recall the impact of the book despite not remembering the storyline means it really played on my emotions. The film did not have that effect. There were moments of sadness – the ending for one thing did make me well up a little – but not to the point where I felt like I took something away from the film. Considering the time period it is set in, not having resonating emotions felt like it was missing something.
The accents were annoying after a while. It is all very well going for authenticity by having them speaking with accents. But the fact they were speaking English with German accents undermined that. It drew attention to the accents, especially when some weren’t as strong as others. If it is authenticity you are truly aiming for, just have them speak in German and sub-title the film if you want it to play with other audiences.
That being said, I did think the acting was strong. Sophie Nélisse did a good job as Liesel. Somehow she brought across the vulnerability of being a young girl in this time, but also had enough moodiness about her that the sullen character of Liesel was showing through as well. The adult cast were good – no performances blew me away, but none were weak either. They were all averagely strong.
I wish the film had had more of an impact. I’m glad to have seen it and did enjoy it. I guess I was just after something a little more considering the power of the book. But that is the drawback with any adaptation; being able to replicate the manipulation of emotions after they have already been done so well is a hard task to do.
I certainly wouldn’t rule this film out, but wouldn’t watch it again in a hurry.