Opening in theatres this Friday from director Brian Percival and 20th Century Fox comes a story of a girl, history and books from the Markus Zusak novel THE BOOK THIEF.
This film tells the story of Liesel (Sophie Nelisse), a young girl in World War II Germany. Traveling with her mother and young sickly brother, what the young girl doesn’t know is that she is about to start a new life.
With adoptive parents Hans (Geoffrey Rush) and Rosa (Emily Watson) she looks for hope. Hans is a gentle man who sees the pains in this young girls eyes and offers solace when he teaches her to read. Rosa is not the easiest woman to warm up to as Liesel goes along to get along.
Making friends takes time but Rudy (Nico Liersch) jumps right in and becomes a warm flame in cold times. Liesel begins to feel comfortable in her surroundings and that’s when Max (Ben Schnetzer) arrives suddenly.
The son of a man Hans feels he owes a debt; Max is hidden in the house. Liesel makes another friend and has someone else to share her love of reading with. Needing more books the young girl takes a risk that will change her life in ways she never sees coming.
FINAL WORD: Nelisse as Liesel is a captivating young woman. This isn’t an easy era of time to play a role in but she manages it quite well. Her eyes hold a sadness and facial expressions are deep with a hurt this young actress couldn’t possible know – yet it’s all there for the audience to see. Her interactions with Rush are so sweet and the friendship with Max and Rudy are lively!
Rush as Hans manages to do what only Rush can do! There is such loveliness about this actor that I have never been able to ignore. His characters range from delightfully playful; to seriously disturbed to so endearing it’s almost painful. As Hans he offers viewers a look into a man who not only wants to do the right thing but enjoy life as he finds it moment by moment. Well done sir, extremely well done.
Watson as Rosa is clearly the mother who lives in fear hidden by a stone mask. Fear has a tendency to do that. Keeping the household running strong and making ends meet leaves little time for Watson’s character to do little else. I get Rosa and Watson made her a woman to be admired.
Leirsch as Rudy is quick, smart and mischievous – all things I love about this character. He has no problem calling Liesel out and, at the same time adores her with no shame. How can anyone not love this character or the actor that portrays him?
Schnetzer as Max brings Liesel’s mind alive. It is one thing to read words; it is another to know how to use those same words to bring light into darkness. The interaction between the two actors, although at times one or the other, brought a smile.
FILM BRAT: The whole film is thoughtful in so many ways. For a young girl to face death in so many different ways is just mind boggling. Yet, she still could reach inside and find love and hope. Nelisse is truly an amazing young actress, Rush works his magic on a young girl so afraid to feel and Watson does what a mother must. All of these are amazing reasons to see THE BOOK THIEF.
Other cast include: Oliver Stokowski as Alex, Heike Makatsch as Liesel’s Mother, Gotthard Lange as the Grave Digger, Kirsten Block as Frau Heinrich, Hildegard Schroedter as Frau Becker, Levin Liam as Franz Deutscher, Sandra Nedeleff as Sarah, Rafael Gareisen as Walter, Carl Choynski as Juergen, and Roger Allam narrates.
TUBS OF POPCORN: I give THE BOOK THIEF three and a half tubs of popcorn out of five. As a lover of books it is quite easy to see how the character Liesel found such comfort in the hardbound word. It is a lovely story during a horrible time but is that enough?
I think the film is definitely catered to those who have read and cherish the book itself. That being said the performances by Rush, Watson and Nelisse are endearing, heart wrenching and eye-opening. I do so hope that when a certain fiery film is done with audiences, they will take a moment to see this film as well.
In the end – sometimes there is courage beyond words!
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