User Score
7.2

Generally favorable reviews- based on 78 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 63 out of 78
  2. Negative: 8 out of 78

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  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. Expand
  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.
  3. Dec 2, 2013
    9
    What a charming and engaging movie. Thought the acting was superb and the storyline very well written. I was in a large, completely packed theater, and I don't think there was a dry eye in there. It is sad to see reviews by those that claim to be experts put this movie down; it just shows their prejudice in my opinion. I thought this movie was MUCH better than Gravity, at least the "Book Thief" is a plausible story! Expand
  4. Dec 2, 2013
    6
    This is one of those trying-to-be-touching stories about a child growing up during war. This time it's a 9 year-old girl, who is adopted by new parents (Geoffrey Rush & Emily Watson) in Nazi Germany. She develops a love of books and shares it with the Jew hidden in the basement (isn't there always one?). The deliberate pacing means that it often takes too long for scenes to develop. There's a constant sense of dread, but never much real drama. So many plot points are predictable and the whole things feels manipulative in a Hallmark Movie of the Week style. While it's competently made, it's slight on emotional impact. On a side note: It also observes one of those silly Hollywood traditions. The people are all supposed to be German, but they speak English with a German accent (and a few actual German words are sprinkled about). Expand
  5. 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.
  6. Dec 2, 2013
    7
    The acting is what raised my grade a whole point. Rush and Nelisse are perfectly cast with Nelisse shining above all others. The story is heartwarming and showcases character development at its finest. And the ending was basically just perfect. I just walked away feeling like something was missing and that it could have been better. Overall I'm impressed and can't wait to see what Nelisse has to show us next. Expand
  7. Nov 28, 2013
    8
    This was a very good film. I think the critics are judging this way too hard. The acting was very good by the entire cast and especially Sophie Nélisse as Liesel, very refreshing.
  8. Mar 2, 2014
    7
    Markus Zusak in my opinion is one of the better modern novelists. I've read most of his books, out of all of them, no question, my favorite is The Book Thief. I often recommend this book to almost every book-lover, so it's to no one's surprise that I was looking forward to this movie, because out of what I had seen in the trailers, it seemed fine. However, after seeing it, I still recommend the book, because if you only see the movie, you will be simply missing out.
    I've never watched a movie by Brian Percival before this one, so I can't compare this movie with some of his other works, but from what I've seen, I can't really blame the shortcomings of the movie on the director. There are some enjoyable and well-done scenes in this movie, it's wonderfully shot. Two exclusions to take into account - the overall feel seems off, if you've read the book you will get what I mean. The movie is much more relaxing and somehow warm than the book, but I will leave out anything specific for the sake of spoilers, and second: the length. This was my primary consearn when I heard about this movie, because I know for a fact that you can't fit a 500+ page novel in a 2 hour movie, you have to leave some stuff out if you can. In the case of The Book Thief - there is almost nothing to leave out without ruining the experience in the process. I blame the director for these, because for one - since it's a book, I suppose it's simply his view on things, but even at that, I can quote out passages that prove the setting is off, it's like he has read the book once. And for the lenght - if you see the movie, you will notice that this movie is not cheaply made, I think they could have gone the extra mile and it wouldn't have costed them that much to add another hour like the movie deserves.
    In the end, story-wise, we get 3 developed characters, 2 semi-developed and a lot - simply missing from the plot. Also gone is the intriguing narrative that is present in the book (not absolutely, but noticeably). The movie simply coudln't handle the whole plot, but even if I look at it as simply a movie - the characters are still underdeveloped.
    The acting in the movie is good, most notable was Geoffrey Rush, he is just the perfect fit for his role - everytime he was on screen you could sense it, he is, by far, the movie's highlight when it comes to acting. My biggest disappointments were Sophie Nélisse who was a terrible choice for a protagonist - she was bland and had little to do with the character from the book when it comes to personality, and also Nico Liersch who had just two moments in the movie where he was good-ish, the rest was terrible and I don't know who in their right mind chose this boy. He just seems to not feel like acting in half the movie, and he is supposed to play one of the more-important roles. Also, on a side note, the guy who plays his father, couldn't find his name - he is terrible too. Guess it runs in the imaginary family.
    When it comes to the soundtrack in the movie, I have to point out that there were two moments where the soundtrack was being weird. I won't spoil it, but I'm pretty sure any normal person will notice it if they are paying attention.
    All in all, my biggest gripe with the movie is it that it's too short - there is no character development, very weak narrative (compared to the book), pathetic ending... all in all - a very weak script adaptation by Michael Petroni, which is no surprise to me. I still say - read the book, it's great and I believe you will have a lot more fun with it. If you are a fan of the book and are curious, however, give this movie a chance, because even with all of the above - I'm rating a 7/10, because all in all it's enjoyable - it's shot nicely, it's even beautiful and creative at times (just not as often as it should) and it's still worth your time if you don't go in expecting a masterpiece.
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  9. Feb 20, 2014
    2
    I'll try and write in English, I apologize if I make mistakes. I actually had great expectations about this movie, I had heard of the book a long time ago. It disappointed me. It's unreal, and fake. The girl reacts in a very artificial way to the things that happen to her, it tastes like lie. The movie is full of empty speeches, that sound good but mean nothing at all. The characters are cursory. You get the sensation the director is trying to tell you something, but in the end he's just saying obvious stuff like it's amazing. They say "We have to. We're people" or something like that all the time. I was like: don't you say? Don't get me wrong, it's a good start for a reflection when it goes with other information. It's a cliché, in all senses. But it entertains you. Expand
  10. Dec 1, 2013
    7
    I normally read books before watching their film adaptations. My family, however, forced me watch this before I had the chance, so I cannot compare the movie to the book. But judging the movie by itself, it was thoroughly entertaining, mature, and artistic. In my opinion, it is better than most movies I have seen in quite some time. My favorite thing about it is that it did not need to resort to graphic violence or overly pompous special effects to create a memorable experience. Although the story can be a little too predictable and trite at times, it still delivers a strong impact and generates much sympathy for the characters. I loved the atmosphere; it felt so authentic and harked back to a feeling of closeness with one's family that seems to have been lost in today's society. Overall, this movie is good, not superb, but definitely worth a watch. Expand
  11. Jan 21, 2014
    8
    The film is unfortunately tame in some areas, oddly edited and has a somewhat melodramatic finale, but the flaws have been made up for with a nice tone, realistic set designs, a fantastic original score by John Williams, great performances and a heart-warming and emotional narrative. The novel is certainly better, but this adaptation certainly comes close to achieving the same success as the novel. Expand
  12. Feb 2, 2014
    10
    I was pleasantly surprised by this film. A keeper for sure because some of its messages will always be applicable. Don't let the meager earnings ($568,500) fool you or lousy overpaid critics.
  13. Mar 9, 2014
    2
    An air of artifice hangs over 'The Book Thief' like a heavy fog and not even seasoned pro's like Emily Watson and Geoffrey Rush can save it from being a stultifying bore. This Second World War story is based on a best selling novel but its adaptation here is protracted and bloodless and must be classed a major disappointment. Young Sophie Nelisse, as the titular character, looks the part but her line delivery at times comes over as phonetic. The production itself looks immaculate, but again this is also a big problem. as everything is just so pristine. At one point Emily Watson berates the girl as being 'filthy' when in fact she looks as if she is on her way to a photo shoot. A bogus in-authenticity pervades and prevents the film from generating any true emotion or pathos. John Williams' pretty score adds to the detrimental effect and actually feels as if it belongs to another type of movie in another era. A couple of scenes do ignite. The cellar search grabs one's attention temporarily and the ending, coming as it does from left field, causes one to stir in a way that the rest of the film never does. I also have to mention that the scene where Geoffrey Rush plays his accordion whilst everyone is hiding in an air raid shelter, made me think that the cast were going to start singing Oom Pah Pah a la Carol Reed's musical Oliver! One thing I did like was the unusual narrative device which is intrigueingly employed at the beginning and used to devastating effect at the end. Expand
  14. Mar 4, 2014
    10
    This movie did not look like any fictional tale, but was very realistic, that happened back in the 40s. It was based on a book of the same name. The filmmakers given soul to the movie with a great adaptation. This children's movie was awesome to watch if you are a fan of this genre. It was set in the backdrop of world war two in Germany, which chronicles a 8 year old girl’s life during those times.

    The movies based on world wars are always interested either it was fictional or real. There are not many war movies which tell from the perspective of German’s especially their citizens who are forced to do many unbelievable stuffs. This movie was pure drama which tells only a family’s struggle over the rule of the Nazis.

    The performances were hypnotised me a lot. The old man role, Hans was played by the great Geoffrey Rush and the little girl, both of them were the highlight of the movie. In fact, one of the Geoffrey Rush’s best movies I have seen, I went speechless for his acting in the movie. The girl was also so good in fact she was the backbone of the movie. Except those two, few other characters were shown in brilliant shades such as Max, Rosa and Rudy.

    I don't know why this movie did not qualify in many categories for the 2014 Oscar. A fine movie specially made for events like this by the Unknown filmmaker for many of us. It is a must see in my opinion, in the end everything is left to the audience and their movie tastes.

    9.5/10
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  15. Jan 31, 2014
    9
    The Book Thief is a slow paced emotional masterpiece that delivers a quality script and cast. A setting which has been use over and over this time stands from the pack and will leave you satisfied after the credit begin to role. The Book thief is a excellent movie to begin 2014 and will defiantly be one to remember.
  16. Jan 12, 2014
    9
    Loved to watch this movie , with brilliant acting, lots of emotion . Very nice surprise. Overall, this movie is very good, not superb, but definitely worth a watch.
  17. Mar 4, 2014
    9
    I have no idea how this film got such low critic reviews, its so much better than a lot of the rubbish that Hollywood produces. I haven't read the book so cant compare how the movie compares to the book, but I thoroughly enjoyed the film. The acting, particularly by the lead characters, id superb, the story is engaging and interesting and the pace of the film is just right. There wasn't anything I disliked about the film, I think some of the critics are judging this film far too harshly. Expand
  18. Mar 13, 2014
    9
    I like many others was caught off guard by this film. I expected on thing and got an entirely different film. There was the envitable fear quotient in the film but it's wasn't a film about fear so much as it was a film about hope and living. It's was a welcome relief to not have to relive the horrors we usually witness in films that are about this time period and instead watch something that dramatically played out but basically played out quietly. This film suceeded for me where 12 Years a Slave failed because the director and the writers made me care about the characters who were truly brought to life by the actors. Yes it's sentimental but we live in a time where sentimentality seems to go against the grain of sex and violence in film. Not a single shot of nudity. No sex scenes. No real violence. Nicely done. Expand
  19. Dec 8, 2013
    5
    There are movies that can be put in a category appropriately labelled ‘Oscar bait’; and if there is one film that exemplifies that best this year, it is The Book Thief. Just like any cold or flu, ‘Oscar bait’ films have very clear symptoms. For starters, setting the film during The Academy Awards’ favourite time in history, World War II is a must; having a young lead performance is another; previous academy award winners and nominees within the cast (in this case the illustrious Geoffrey Rush and the always impressive Emily Watson) always helps; and finally, the icing on the cake is the heavy-handed and manipulating (to the point of distracting) forced drama (in this case, a completely unnecessary voice-over). Put all those factors together and you have one of the most formulaic and familiar films during Oscar season this year. Read more!

    I have not had the pleasure to read Markus Zusak‘s supposed enthralling source material in which the film is based off of. The novel has received an overwhelming amount of accolades for presenting a story through the perspective of an unlikely narrator, but within Brian Percival‘s cinematic adaptation, unfortunately, this narration is far from effective.

    The Book Thief is by no means a terrible film. Mediocre at best, the film is a slow, long-winded feature that check-marks most of the essential plot-points of its far superior World War II predecessors. With just over a two hour run time, The Book Thief uses morbid images of death, sometimes involving children, to get its dramatized point across and elicit notions of pure sentiment.

    The film follows Liesel Meminger (French-Canadian Sophie Nélisse from Monsieur Lazhar), a newly orphaned child who is in the midst of pre-war Germany in 1938. Liesel is sent to live with a new family, Mr. & Mrs. Hans Hubermann (Rush & Watson) and like any child her age, she is very much reserved towards the strangers she must now call her parents. Hans does everything in his power to comfort his new daughter, finding a common passion in literature. Liesel, who is unable to read before she arrives to her new home on Heaven St., seeks the guidance of her new father, and together they find a small solace amongst the raging political ideology and war propaganda within Germany at the time. As you would expect, Liesel befriends a young, lemon-haired boy Rudy (Nico Liesch), and together the film recounts the innocent relationship these two share during one of the most atrocious times in our world’s history.

    The scenes between Rudy and Liesel are some of the best within the film, surely capturing the simplicity of children trying to make sense of a very complex time. The very fabric of the relationships and loyalties between the people she holds dear to her are tested with the sudden arrival of Max (Ben Schnetzer), the son of an old friend of Hans. With cultural tension and war on the rise, Liesel and her family must turn a blind eye to patriotism in favour of humanity, finding a new way to survive without ever compromising their own integrity.

    Some of the finer points of The Book Thief comes from its impeccable acting talent. Nélisse embodies the young heart of Liesel and makes the character her own. While Rush and Watson make the best of the material they are given, Rush is always shining, capturing our hearts and the heart of Liesel any which way he can. His affections are as sweet as the lumps of sugar he magically surprises her with.

    Light on any real emotional responses, The Book Thief will less than likely make a dent during the award season. It’ll probably be left mostly forgotten by the time nominations come early next year.

    Rush is a fine actor joined by an equally talented cast. Despite the great acting unfortunately, The Book Thief will surely be crippled for its cliched war narrative that we have seen time and time again. Applause is surely warranted for choosing to focus on elaborate set pieces, excellent production design, authentic filming locations in Berlin and talented actors, however the film neglects its chance to actually drop any emotional bombs on its audience.
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  20. Mar 9, 2014
    7
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. To my surprise this was a nice film which covered a lot of emotional content and giving us a fictional yet believable story of ordinary people in Germany during WW2.

    Credit goes to the use of death as the narrator of Liesel's story which was refreshingly different. It enabled the story to be presented in a more pleasant and child-like manner than a typical tragedy of suffering.

    One further positive is the effort taken to replicate a believable Stuttgart. Characters spoke realistic sounding German, English with a German accent or a mixture of both. Very few films enable the audience to understand another language whilst also telling a story in their own language. Also the use of real propaganda like posters, school choir songs, outfits, living conditions and public atmosphere all benefit the film and allow us to appreciate it better.

    Each of the 5 main characters are all very well acted. Geoffrey Rush nails a caring yet slightly silly father beautifully as does Emma Watson as the tough mother with a big, yet hidden, heart. The standout is Sophie Nélisse as Liesle portraying wonder, innocence, joy, sadness, or empathy with us ease; they definitely chose the correct actress. Nico Liersch as Rudy was solid as light-hearted, joyful best friend of Liesel. Ben Schnetzer as Max portrayed a jew in hiding we've not seen before, i.e. confident, understanding and caring towards those who are keeping him alive, without being frightened , tormented or helpless.

    My main criticisms are:

    * Mama coming to school to give Liesel good news - why do that and risk being exposed when such news can be delivered at home?
    * Bodies of those who died from their homes being bombed looking like people asleep. Surely if the filmmakers go to the effort of having vocal coaches for realistic German accents, then why not also give us authentic looking corpses.
    * Max appearing at the end. Where did he go and how did we survive? Not even some dialogue to explain how or why? His appearance lacks any impact upon the audience and lines up too nicely to be believable, i.e. cheap.
    * The film skips from sometime in 1943 to 1945 when Americans arrive in Stuttgart. What happened to Liesel in that time? The most interesting part of her story is what happened to her after the town was severely bombed.
    * The last 5 minutes of the film was quite rushed where it seemed to hurry up and finish the story without giving many details. I wanted to see a little more of what happens to the characters.
    * The ending is beautiful and a positive. However why can't we see how she ended up in Manhattan, New York. And why New York? Of all the places she would have emigrated to surely choosing New York was too cliched. I suspect it was chosen because many Europeans emigrated to the USA and New York is likely where they arrive. Despite being an open-minded and multicultural city it is unrealistic she'd remain there her whole life.

    A few small grievances aside this is a film I'd recommend to anyone wanting to see a story of how regular Germans experienced life under Nazi Germany.
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  21. Mar 5, 2014
    7
    Not a perfect film, thus it is compelling and effective. The story of Lisel is one of the few that stay with you. Beautiful score & lovable characters. The whole story is bold & courageous.
  22. Jan 18, 2014
    7
    I think this is a particularly difficult storyline to try and translate to the big screen. For me, the appeal of the novel was the sublime use of language and imagery, as well as Death as narrator. So I had pretty low expectations for this film. It was much better than I anticipated, but there were still some parts that didn't work for me. Overall, the performances were top notch. I was particularly pleased by Geoffrey Rush and the actor who played Rudy. I felt Roger Allam was wrong as the narrator; something about his tone and delivery seemed off, maybe too polished. All the key relationships were handled well, and I think the film depicts Liesel's growing awareness of the horrors around her beautifully. This is a quiet film, that at times became a tad too quiet. However I do give them props for giving it a crack and not making a total hash of it. Expand
  23. Jan 28, 2014
    5
    It`s not a bad movie, but also does`t have anything that would make it a great movie. It includes good actors like Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson but they are not even close to their bests.
  24. Mar 30, 2014
    8
    Despite developing in the holocaust, it manages to make a really good story, in which the war plays secondary role. Really good acting and direction. A must see!
  25. Apr 12, 2014
    7
    i found the book thief depressing , interesting , and very creative . this is one of the most inspiring , sole surviving movie i had ever seen . But its just sad for me .
    Grade A
  26. Mar 16, 2014
    6
    I viewed The Book Thief with great anticipation at the beginning, but unfortunately my attention flagged halfway through. There was little new in the story line and I wasn't convinced by Emily Watson's performance as a harsh, Germanic foster mother with a heart of gold. The acting was fair, in my opinion, and the film plodded along without any great surprises. There were no heart-stopping moments - nothing to make me laugh or cry - so I am sad to say that I felt this movie was just average and a waste of Geoffrey Rush's talents. I hated the insertion of German phrases with American accents. Either English or German - or sub-titles please. Everything seemed forced and formulaic. Nice try, but I wouldn't recommend it. Expand
  27. Mar 20, 2014
    4
    The problem with The Book Thief is that it feels as though Brian Percival (known for his work on Downton Abbey) has narrowed the whole story to the confinements of a stage play. Okay, one can still make staging methods effective (take Dial M for Murder), but the way the camera moves, the actors enter right to left, the design shuffles as time goes by, all feels robotic and even oppressive. There is a great war going on outside, agreed this film isn’t directly intended to expose the war effort, but to signify the unconceivable act of the Nazis in true force one might need to dampen the glamorization of this storytelling.

    The structure of the film is designed in such a way that the final act is alive, theoretically, with all the acts. At least, you can be sure to be awoken by the final 30 minutes of tailored clichés interweaving disaster and relief. I can admire the day-to-day life of our book thief Liesel Meminger (played by Sophie Nélisse), the core of the story, and her fascination with what lies beyond and above (she finds in the written word). This is, in fact, the most enjoyable aspect of the film, not to mention how well Sophie Nélisse holds everything together with her perceptive performance. The Book Thief feels alive and then the final years of the war are crammed into one act, an act spreading an entire story arc, an arc that would be better suited to capturing a separate film. It was never going to be an easy book to adapt.

    The film begins with the voice of death (narrated by Roger Allam), a voice instantly recognizable and a voice that will no doubt shadow the entire film. However, this voice seems irrefutably naïve to the story it is telling. It takes a nap for a few years before coming back and interrupting the film three quarters of the way through. The film has made every effort to immerse its audience only to be pulled out of the picture by the voice of death shrewdly reappearing, perhaps to remind us that there is indeed a war going on outside of the street where Liesel lives.

    The cast is occupied with pleasantly accomplished performers (Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson), however the Germanic approach of the film is inconceivable to any admirable performance. “Nein” is apparently a plausible word in the English language? My take would be that if you are going to speak any German, then I want to see the whole film in German. And, in fact, I would have very much loved to see this film in German. Part of the disposition from the horrors of the depicted reality is bred from the fact that our characters are reciting English (could you imagine watching Downfall in English?). Consequently, and for other reasons mentioned, this film doesn’t sink its claws deep enough. It balances on the rope of knotting together a less frightening past.

    I must note that the ending is fatefully superfluous. The tracking of the camera, in a present day, past mature pictures of a prosperous Liesel is grossly implemented by an ostentatious white iMac pulling apart the skin of the entire screening before us. This concentrated product placement, led by the palpable apple logo, was scornful to the foundations of the story and was the only symbol reminiscent on my mind as I left the cinema. Couldn’t the final assemblies of the budget have come from elsewhere?

    I wish to admire this film, but it doesn’t attempt the depth required of a child’s eyes on the horrors of a war; don’t look for such a powerful picture as The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. There were moments in which I obtained a deep affection for the family, their love of the lost and found. Yet, I feel that all along I was perhaps searching for a different movie altogether.
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  28. Mar 20, 2014
    8
    I always feel somewhat inadequate writing about movies with a massive understanding of their place and time. Perhaps it's an inferiority complex I carry around with me, questioning my own ability to pass judgement (such as it is) on a subject I am never going to fully appreciate and, if we're honest, have no right to pass comment on whatsoever. How very dare I sit, critically finger-pointing, at something that I have absolutely no comprehension of? It's like asking my ten-year-old to judge figure skating at the winter olympics.

    Approaching the all round general unpleasantness of the second world war in film is never an easy task, as it still holds a massive amount of importance to many, and rightly so. You need to be on your game, as events touched millions of people so radically that any apparent sign of disrespect, be it by a lackadaisical approach to storytelling or maybe an ambivalent nonchalance to the feelings of an audience most likely highly invested in its telling, would speak volumes about not only a lack of attention, but also cinema's duty of care to remember not only those featured, but all of those that go unmentioned.

    Unusually, the story we are told here is from a perspective less viewed. This is the story, predominantly, of a young german girl, Liesel (Sophie Nélisse) separated from her mother and tragically from her brother shortly before the onset of war. The reasons for their estrangement are never conclusively revealed, but it is hinted on occasion that her mother was rumbled for being a communist and subsequently disappeared with the shadowy aid of Hitler's minions. Liesel is adopted by the Hubermans, Hans (Geoffrey Rush) and Rosa (Emily Watson). Hans is an unemployed and aging accordion player with an honest heart and a caring soul. Rosa does other people's laundry to make ends meet, has a sharp tongue and little patience. She makes no secret that adopting Liesel was for financial gain, due to the allowance provided by the government for such care.

    And it is here that we spend most of the running time, as Liesel is introduced to education. She learns to read, aided buy the loving Hans, who creates an opportunity for her to create her own dictionary of words on the walls of their basement. Liesel, initially fearing her new surroundings becomes more comfortable, makes friends (and the odd enemy) and integrates herself into this little town with as few ripples as possible.

    She strikes up relationships easily as her happiness expands and the audience cannot help but smile as this sweet, radiant child begins to enjoy life for what seems like the first time. And then, without warning, Percival will have our lead dressed in the uniform of what has become a symbol of hatred and fear, singing songs praising the Fuhrer. This comes, of course, out of a childhood innocence and a over-riding sense of impending fear of speaking out, but the innocent vision turned mindless, wanton evil, even defended by ignorance is often a jarring juxtaposition for the audience to deal with. When the war inevitably arrives, then we are afforded the trials that come with a nation under siege. Normally, our English speaking souls would be watching the valiant endeavours of our brave soldiers fighting against the evil Reich, but here, the war is a bit player that does not feature as much as it might. There are air-raids and conscription, not to mention a fair degree of destruction and death, but for a young girl, this is as an accurate representation of her experiences of wartime in her home town as we could feasibly expect to witness.

    Director Brian Percival has done a truly admirable job, recreating a mostly happy perspective. Even in times of hardship and strife, normal lives continued to be normal, as much in this little german town as anywhere else in Europe at that time. Percival's skill here is making the war a subtle, circling monster in the life of a girl that has no real understanding of what earth-shattering events are going on around her.

    When this newly formed family unit takes in a young Jewish man because of a promise made in another time, Rosa's first thought is to turn him in, concerned that food is already scarce and her soup would become even thinner with an extra mouth to feed. Hans is resolute, however, and the young man is nursed back to health as Liesel warms to him, as a sister to an older, unfamiliar visiting brother.

    Nelisse's performance as Liesel is excellent, rounded and complete. It may just be fifteen or twenty minutes too long. Overall, however, a very satisfying experience all round.
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  29. Apr 16, 2014
    7
    While this film definitely had it's flaws, it was enjoyable and worth watching. The first flaw is that it the entire movie was fairly slow, which may or may not actually be a bad thing. The main flaw is how they leave so many details out as well as some of the aesthetic details. More than a few years progress in the story and yet the only thing that changes in the main character is her hair style ans maybe a bit of makeup. Many story details are left unresolved such Max's story and the girl's mother. Expand
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: 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.