Metascore
53

Mixed or average reviews - based on 31 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 31
  2. Negative: 5 out of 31
  1. Reviewed by: Richard Roeper
    Nov 14, 2013
    100
    This is one of the best movies of the year, featuring one of the most perfect endings of any movie in recent memory.
  2. Reviewed by: Mick LaSalle
    Nov 14, 2013
    75
    The resulting film has some wrong notes and touches of preciousness, but mostly it's a moving and effective presentation of life under Nazism, as seen from an unusual angle.
  3. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Nov 7, 2013
    75
    The simplicity of Michael Petroni’s script seems a drawback at first. But skilled director Brian Percival (Downton Abbey) slowly, effectively tightens the vise as evil intrudes into the life of this child.
  4. Reviewed by: Lou Lumenick
    Nov 7, 2013
    75
    Overall, it’s engaging and serves its young audience well — a rare Holocaust movie that doesn’t strain to become Oscar bait.
  5. Reviewed by: R. Kurt Osenlund
    Nov 7, 2013
    75
    Books themselves become the story's key symbol, representing the past and future, loss and possibility, of a place that's ground zero for some of history's darkest days.
  6. Reviewed by: Barbara VanDenburgh
    Nov 14, 2013
    70
    The children may tug at the heartstrings, but it’s the adults who give the film its heart.
  7. Reviewed by: Dennis Harvey
    Oct 4, 2013
    70
    The Book Thief has been brought to the screen with quiet effectiveness and scrupulous taste by director Brian Percival and writer Michael Petroni.
  8. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Nov 8, 2013
    67
    It’s respectable, safe, intelligent – and a bit dull.
  9. Reviewed by: Ben Kenigsberg
    Nov 6, 2013
    67
    "Life Is Beautiful" may or may not have set a benchmark for tackiness in Holocaust cinema, but The Book Thief offers a hypothetical way in which the former might have been worse: At least it wasn’t narrated by Death.
  10. Reviewed by: Adam Markovitz
    Nov 6, 2013
    67
    It would make for a pretty ghastly pageant if not for smart, understated turns by Watson and Geoffrey Rush as the charmingly Teutonic couple who rescue both Liesel and a stranded Jew (Ben Schnezter) — not to mention the movie itself — with honorable matter-of-factness.
  11. Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    Nov 15, 2013
    63
    Then Death feels the need to intrude again. And again. If his accent weren't so charming, his voice so resonant, it would be depressing, all this meddling and mortality.
  12. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Nov 14, 2013
    63
    Anchoring the story is 9-year-old Liesel Meminger (Sophie Nélisse), whose first scenes are riveting.
  13. Reviewed by: Stephanie Merry
    Nov 14, 2013
    63
    The Book Thief has its moments of brilliance, thanks in large part to an adept cast. But the movie about a girl adopted by a German couple during World War II also crystallizes the perils of book adaptations.
  14. Reviewed by: Ian Freer
    Feb 24, 2014
    60
    Some good performances, impeccable craft and good intentions can’t compensate for a lack of dramatic urgency and emotional heft. The Book Thief is effective, but not effective enough.
  15. Reviewed by: Paul Bradshaw
    Feb 10, 2014
    60
    It’s hard not to be moved by the story, but it’s only a handful of great performances that save it from underwhelming. Steal the book instead.
  16. Reviewed by: Stephen Farber
    Nov 7, 2013
    60
    You may come away more impressed by the intentions than by the achievements.
  17. Reviewed by: Elizabeth Weitzman
    Nov 7, 2013
    60
    The movie’s strong sense of empathy, enhanced by several noteworthy performances, ought to engage most viewers.
  18. Reviewed by: Jamie S. Rich
    Nov 25, 2013
    50
    The Book Thief renders a dark history in the most bland and inoffensive hues. Most of its success relies on our foreknowledge of history. Its own efforts are hollow, squandering a good cast on lazy writing.
  19. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Nov 21, 2013
    50
    The film is unobjectionable, sentimental, and not a little dull.
  20. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Nov 14, 2013
    50
    It relays an uplifting story that, ill-advisedly, is not so much Holocaust-era as Holocaust-adjacent, determined to steer clear of too much discomfort.
  21. Reviewed by: Robert Abele
    Nov 8, 2013
    50
    As a showcase for accomplished performers tugging heart strings in a holiday awards season, it's perfectly serviceable.
  22. 50
    Directed by Brian Percival, best known for his work on "Downton Abbey," the film has the similar quality of a well-appointed historical soap opera.
  23. Reviewed by: Kevin Jagernauth
    Nov 6, 2013
    50
    The Book Thief covers a large span of time, but the film's episodic nature, often moving from one incident to the next with little time to pause or reflect, often obscures that fact and hinders an evocation of the cumulative effect the war has on the psyche of not just the Hubermanns, but their neighbors, too.
  24. Reviewed by: Jordan Hoffman
    Nov 5, 2013
    50
    An embarrassing gut-punch of unfiltered schmaltz, but its sympathy for the devil-style humanism is well-meaning.
  25. Reviewed by: Tasha Robinson
    Nov 14, 2013
    40
    The Book Thief crams story after story into such a small space that it can’t realize any of them in depth.
  26. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    Nov 6, 2013
    40
    Where the book had a kernel of intellectual irony to it — words betray a nation — this drama goes shamelessly for the heart.
  27. Reviewed by: James Berardinelli
    Nov 18, 2013
    38
    A misfire in far too many meaningful aspects, The Book Thief is so bad that it's tough to decide whether it's better used as a sleep aid or watched while under the influence as an object of derision.
  28. Reviewed by: Godfrey Cheshire
    Nov 8, 2013
    38
    In the end, there's a distinct air of solipsism to this tale.
  29. Reviewed by: Marc Savlov
    Nov 27, 2013
    30
    On the not-much-of-a-plus side, at over two hours long, sitting through The Book Thief engenders in the viewer some serious sympathy for the interminable plight of poor, sickly Max, concealed below stairs in a dank, dark corner of the house on Himmelstrasse.
  30. Reviewed by: Stephanie Zacharek
    Nov 8, 2013
    30
    The Book Thief is just too tidy to have much impact.
  31. Reviewed by: Stephen Holden
    Nov 8, 2013
    20
    The Book Thief is a shameless piece of Oscar-seeking Holocaust kitsch.
User Score
7.2

Generally favorable reviews- based on 96 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 25 out of 34
  2. Negative: 4 out of 34
  1. Nov 30, 2013
    9
    The Book Thief is one of the best books I've read, and thankfully, the same can be said for the film adaptation. The Book Thief mainly succeeds thanks to its acting. Each actor nails it as their characters perfectly, and delivers the perfect amount of emotion and dialogue. It's some of the best acting I've ever seen in a film. the writing does a great job of sticking to the book. While there are obviously differences, and things outright taken out, the majority of the writing keeps true to the book. Even though I don't deduct points for accuracy, I was impressed with how well it did towards the original novel. Even without the book accuracy, the writing and script were excellent. When it comes down to it, my only problems with the film is the safe approach and inconsistency. The film does decent with its Nazi Germany setting, but plays with it way too safely. It seems like they tried not too mess with such a setting, and because of it, it feels like the Nazi setting is approached a bit too brightly, except for a select few scenes. But the biggest problem is the inconsistency. Death narrates the movie, just like he does the book, but the problem here is that he's used a few times, and at random. It makes me wonder what the point of bringing Death into the film was, because his random use feels seriously off. Aside from this problem, The Book Thief does excellent thanks to its strong acting and great direction, and I'd definitely recommend you see it. Full Review »
  2. Nov 9, 2013
    8
    Surprisingly, The Book Thief doesn't dissapoint the fans of the books and moviegoers. The film set entirely in WWII is very kinetic and full of joyous activities. Brian Percival has done a good job directing the film and writing the script. In the end, not a film for the squeamish but certainly scary, fun and inspiring- The Book Thief is the only film that represents a book by its merits. Full Review »
  3. Mar 8, 2014
    0
    Painfully boring are words that describe this movie perfectly. I couldn't even stomach sitting through 30 minutes of it let alone 2 hours. Stick with the book instead. Full Review »