Number 1000!!! – Friday, October 28th - Larry H. publishes his one thousandth movie review 1997-2022
  
The Book Thief
Released:  November 8, 2013
This is yet another movie with a story set with the “Winds of War” gusting in pre-war Nazism. It’s 1938 and a young girl (Liesel) is frantically adopted by two non-Jew Germans who have no children and barely scratching out an existence; soup is the primary meal. If this German couple had the revered, Aryan blood, what’s the problem? This film by Director Brian Percival attempts to peel back the façade of the common citizens in Nazi Germany who were caught in Hitler’s oppressive world that operated on strict authority and intimidation.
 
“It’s not too late to join the party…”  The was the warning given to Papa/Hans (Geoffrey Rush – age 62) and Mama/Rosa (Emily Watson – age 47). This brave and scared husband and wife were not only willing to raise Liesel (Sophie Nelisse), but they secretly hid a young Jewish man in their basement. Their house was on the street in the middle of a typical, German neighborhood where everybody knew your name. And all of your business. If you didn’t fly the Swastika flag, then you were not a good German, and bad things could happen. Hans and Rosa displayed the flag.
 
The narrator of the film is also known as “Death” so that gives you some idea of the atmosphere of this story. Young Liesel is very sad and misses her mother even though she attempts to be a good child for the sake of her new parents; especially her “Papa.”  The child learns to read rapidly and courageously rescues a book after a book-burning in the town square. Her Papa supports her loved of books and fosters her reading. The basement dweller, Max (Ben Schnetzer), also helps Liesel see the world “…as though your eyes were talking.” She has an obvious gift for literature.
 
But all of this love and support for each other is also subject to the cruelty and unfairness of war and a dictatorship. The movie is based on the best-selling novel by Markus Zusak. This screenplay is by Michael Petroni who also wrote “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.” I have not read Zusak’s novel, but I suspect that it must have been more entertaining than this picture. I’m not sure if the director or screenwriter dropped the ball or both, but I did not enjoy this movie. It was not fun, barely interesting, and at times boring. How do you botch-up such a sweet, intriguing story about Liesel and Nazism?
 
The acting was shockingly good; Emily Watson as the complicated and multi-layered Rosa was my favorite. Ms. Watson has been nominated twice for Best Actress in the 1990’s, but she still has the luster. Geoffrey Rush’s Papa was charming, terrified, meek and valiant. Not bad for a kid from Queensland, Australia, who won the Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of David Helfgott in “Shine” (1996). There are a lot of hot movies in theatres now, so I’d choose this one if you are a big fan of one of the actors and/or of War World II. Rock ‘n Roll.
 
Grade 79. Larry H.    www.larryhmoviereviews.com
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