thebookthiefposter

TEARAWAY Maverick TIERNEY REARDON reviews the movie adaptation of one of her favourite books.

 

As a huge fan of Markus Zusak’s best-selling novel The Book Thief, I was pretty excited to learn that a movie adaptation was being filmed. Movie adaptations almost never do the book justice, it seems, so I was worried that it wouldn’t live up to my (rather high) expectations. It is, after all, a phenomenal book.

 

The characters in The Book Thief have very distinctive personalities, so it’s impressive that each actor suited their character so perfectly. Sophie Nelisse plays the main character, Liesel; a young girl sent to live with foster parents in Nazi Germany. Liesel has to adjust to her new home and family; sharp-tongued Rosa (Emily Watson) and kindly “accordionist” Hans (Geoffrey Rush). This proves hard at first, but she quickly befriends the tailor’s son, Rudy, who is immediately infatuated by Liesel.

 

Tension is growing between Germany and England, and as the days grow darker, Liesel is taught to read, and a passionate obsession with words is born. Reading anything and everything she can find, Liesel discovers that words give her the strength to begin to move on after losing her family to Hitler.

 

When World War II begins, Liesel turns to her beloved books for courage. Then, the unthinkable happens. A young Jewish man turns up on their doorstep, sick and desperate for concealment. Hans and Rosa make the enormous decision to hide him from the Nazis in their basement, and so Max (played by Ben Schnetzer) becomes a dangerous secret; a secret that could spell death for the whole family. As more and more Jews are taken from their homes, Liesel makes close friends with Max, who understands words even better than she can. But can words protect them from the merciless war outside the basement?

 

The Book Thief is the best movie I’ve seen in a long while. It’s true to the book, the actors are excellent, and the movie is laid out in a haunting, yet beautiful way. I was pleased to see that the narrator was present in the movie as well as the book; the story is told from the perspective of the angel of Death, who is much more human than you might imagine.

 

The movie captures elements of fear and desperation, perfectly setting the scene for Nazi Germany. While it’s a movie that will make you cry, the optimism and innovation of the characters brighten the story.

 

The Book Thief reminds us of the power of words, family and love; and how even when life seems darkest, hope can be found. It’s my new favourite movie, and it definitely deserves its 3 out of 3 stars.

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