The Book Thief, ironically enough based on a book, follows the story of a young girl named Liesel during World War II. After her baby brother passes away she is adopted and moved to a new part of Germany where she struggles to fit in. Here she finds herself at peace by stealing books and learning to read them with her adopted father and an unwell Jew on the run from Hitler that has taken refuge in their basement.
The Book Thief depicts World War II and the holocaust in a rather family friendly way. This is a rather refreshing way to view the war if I'm perfectly honest. Nearly every film that depicts World War II or the holocaust is gruesome and features foul language everywhere. The Book Thief shows views of the war through a child's perspective and how they too were affected by it all, not just the adults. A refreshing, enjoyable and realistic take on a rather dark era.
The Book Thief is continuing the line of great performances this year. I've seen three films to be released this year and trust me I have a lot more coming, but what stands out for me in all of them are the performances. It is again here; the film is full of spectacular performances from nearly everyone. There were actually one or two slightly dull performances, but I can assure you they weren't in the film for more then a few minutes.
The sets in the film were beautiful and dull. I don't want to phrase this in a negative way because that's not what I'm trying to say, but a lot of the locations were really ordinary and dull back in World War II. This film took my breath away with how realistic it presented everything. The set design for the film was extraordinary. There are a few scenes that take place outside the main city of the film and these too were breathtaking. I didn't have any breath left by the end of the film, that's how blown away I was at it all. The film has gone average with critics, but surely it'll get some sort of nomination for set design. It nearly has too!
The film's runtime is way too long. I understand the reasons behind the film being too long, but the runtime of the film still could have been handled better. The book, which I have not yet read, is a rather large book and so the film tries to show as much of it as it can. This makes the film skim through various moments, but still tries to show everything it can which makes this film around twenty minutes too long.
I didn't particularly like the ending of the film. To be honest I'm actually on the fence about the final moment of the film and don't worry, I won't talk spoilers. By ending I don't mean the final few scenes of the film, I was fine with them, but instead I mean the closing shot of the film. We have two and a bit hours of a film set in WW2 Germany then all of a sudden the film fades to black and this rather odd and unnecessary shot appears that really doesn't belong in the film. I would have been more then happy if it ended at the fade to black.
To sum up The Book Thief is a well acted and refreshing look at the holocaust and WW2 that features brilliant set design. The film is just twenty minutes too long and features a rather odd closing shot.