Another strong point of the film is the acting. All three main roles (Rush, Watson, and Nelisse) are portrayed perfectly. Scenes involving only the girl and her adoptive parents in the house transports to the atmosphere of living in wartime Germany and being afraid of political prosecution. The fear of being arrested as a political criminal (i.e. don’t do anything out of the ordinary or risk looking suspicious) was challenged by those with any empathy. The question really was: to keep someone in hiding and save a life, and risk losing it all, or don’t bother and save yourself? To Hans, there was no question. Rush, to me, was the real star of this film for being able to make his character truly stand out from the rest. Rush portrayed Hans’ internal dilemma so well. A feeling, I’m sure, was resonant across the nation. To hide a Jew (in this case, Max, played by Ben Schnetzer) during the war, and risk so much, was incredibly brave. Hans maintained that bravery through some painful optimism, almost delusional.
Throughout the movie, you feel inspired by Liesel’s influence on others. She’s likeable and only has the best intentions. Her love of words and people are magnetic, just like those she’s surrounded by, we can’t help but like her. But, even still, I found the movie as a whole just okay. Like I said earlier, the entire movie was slightly too cheesy. An attempt to appeal to children and adults alike. Just like the film’s battle between legend and drama, it didn’t seem to know if it would be a kid’s movie or one directed towards adults.
The Book Thief was similar to a big scoop of vanilla ice cream: it appealed to everyone. Or, at least the film tried to appeal to everyone. It was too rose-coloured and was a soft expression of Germany under Nazi control. The message came off as simple: reading is good and Nazis are bad. The acting was great, the music was even better, but there seemed to be something missing. It stood on the brink of genres and never made a choice. As a result, the film rests in the sort of weird, light-hearted-drama-legend-kids movie about a little girl’s influence on others in wartime Nazi Germany. Forgive me, the name of the genre is still in progress.
However, I haven’t read the book. So what do I know?
The Book Thief opens on Friday, November 22nd.