“The Book Thief” 2 hrs 11-minute Drama Director: Brian Percival Cast: Geoffrey Rush (Hans), Emily Watson (Rosa), Sophie Nelisse (Liesel), Ben Schnetzer and Nico Liersch. Adapted from the best-selling novel, “The Book Thief” by author, Markus Zucsak, and screenwriter: Michael Petroni
Set in World War II Nazi Germany, a shy, eleven-year-old girl goes to live with a foster family. Liesel meets her new, seemingly rigid foster mother, Rosa, (Emily Watson) and charming, gentle foster father, Hans, (played by the talented, Geoffrey Rush), but she fails her first day at school because she cannot read or write. When her foster father teaches her how to read, a life-long enchantment with the written word begins. She is befriended by a Nazi Colonel’s wife and begins to steal books from their home to read first to herself and then to an ailing, young Jewish man, Max (Ben Schnetzer) who is hidden in the basement. Words, she finds, keep alive her spirit, her hope, her courage. It becomes her escape from the cruel realities that surround her. With her constant hovering and endless reading Max recuperates before he has to, once again, be on the run.
Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson give touching performances. Stories about a Nazi-occupied Germany can be riveting. This is no less. An unexpected “presence” is the narration done by Death (voice of Roger Allam), which elaborates on how beneficial wars are to him, explaining in an eerily poetic way how he claims souls. The young actress who plays the lead role of Liesel is Sophie Nelisse, (Monsieur Lazhar) who does an outstanding job as an innocent girl, torn from her family members and reassigned to a foster family. How she copes with what befalls her, with the losses in her life, is yet another testament to the courage and determination of this girl to live regardless of a world exploding all around her. We are sure to see more of her in the future. “>★★★ Plus