Posted February 17, 2014 by Nicolo Parungo in Movies/TV

MOVIE REVIEW: Will “The Book Thief” Steal Your Heart?


There’s nothing inherently wrong with The Book Thief, it is a movie filled with plenty of strong performances and does offer a unique perspective of World War Two through the eyes of children. However it’s more than a little pretentious with the story it’s telling, having death be moved by the life of a little girl in an era where Jews were doing everything they can to stay alive is a wee bit insensitive for my tastes.

In all fairness the film does succeed in various levels. Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson perform admirably, not only making the most out of the material given to them, but making said material resonate with the viewer or at the least making their characters memorable. There’s also a solid amount of comedy and drama, none of which feel particularly distasteful.

There are also similarities to The Monument’s Men; instead of art the movie tries to demonstrate the importance of books and literature in history and The Book Thief actually succeeds in doing so unlike the half-hearted attempt that was shown in the George Clooney lead film.


On the other hand we also have Death’s creepy narration, which just doesn’t work in a film like this. The narration not only adds to the film being pretentious, but it doesn’t work given the relatively light tone of the film. I hate to compare, but it’s not like The Book Thief’s story is as sad, tragic or inspiring as say Anne Frank’s story or the stories of various Jews during this era. Having death be inspired by this particular tale just doesn’t sit right with me.

We also get some awkward dialogue here and there despite strong performances, including a cringe worthy “I love…ughhh…” as a character dies. Another character Max (played by Ben Schnetzer) only seems to speak in quotes.

Still, the movie does have some rather lavish production values and some great direction, so while The Book Thief is a bit too pretentious for its own good, it is relatively harmless which is ironic given the setting.

We would like to thank 20th Century Fox and Warner bros. for the invite!

Nicolo Parungo