The Book Thief

WRITTEN BY: Michael Petroni
DIRECTED BY: Brian Percival
STARRING: Sophie Nélisse, Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, Nico Liersch, Ben Schnetzer
RATING: 4.5 stars
When you love a novel, it can be hard to accept a film adaptation because it will inevitably not align with your imagination. The Book Thief is also written in a particular way that adapting it to film is an even more difficult task. But in the capable hands of director Brian Percival and screenwriter Michael Petroni, the film is able to stay true to the substance of the novel and is all heart. The Book Thief is a moving tale that is likely to make you shed a tear - or several.
Adapted from Markus Zusak's bestseller, The Book Thief is narrated by Death. Liesel (Sophie Nélisse) is sent to live with adoptive parents Rosa (Emily Watson) and Hans Hubermann (Geoffrey Rush) in a small German town in the lead up to World War Two. She becomes friends with a boy named Rudy (Nico Liersch) and starts to learn to read with assistance from Hans who is very kind to her. But when a young Jewish man named Max (Ben Schnetzer) arrives at their door seeking refuge, the family is put at risk. They hide him in the basement and hope the Nazis do not find him as the war starts to pick up.
Rush remains one of my favourite actors and deserves award attention for his portrayal of Hans, who is a compassionate man and encourages Liesel to follow her passion for books and creativity. Watson is surprisingly funny and endearing as the growling and scowling adoptive mother. Liersch is fantastic as Rudy, providing a lighter tone to such a serious film. Schnetzer is also solid as Max. His is a complex character who is both scared and brave, ill and strong. But it is certainly Nélisse's film. She is simply amazing and is a child actress worth keeping an eye on.
My only real issue with the film is the language. Most of the time, characters speak English with an accent, but then other times, they speak German or say a random word in German. It felt jarring at times. But, at least the accents were consistent.
If you love books and World War Two history, you will probably love The Book Thief. If nothing else, it will reignite your passion to read.