Friday, December 6, 2013

Why Make The Book Thief?

I was hearing many positive things about The Book Thief before I finally got around to seeing it.
When all was said and done, I guess I just didn't understand. There have been so many Holocaust films... many of them of high high quality. The most recent one to my memory was Sarah's Key. Now it's been three years since that title, so I thought someone else would come out and brush off the history of it all and find some other interesting angle to tackle it from. Well, that's not exactly what happened here...

There is something to be said for the limited idea of watching this small town get sucked into a war they had no part in.
But by the time we reach the town in the first fifteen minutes, they're already clearly on that course. So the majority of the transformation has already occurred. It is interesting to see characters we may assume to be bad people properly humanized, and many of the characters here get a chance to be understood, but in the end the film felt unsure of itself and incomplete. Perhaps inconsistent is a better word.
Now I haven't read this book. The narrative format of death telling what it is he saw during this time could be interesting in prose, though a little contrived from the outset.  But in a film, I simply could not justify the decision to stick with it. Honestly those narrations brought back obnoxious memories of Perfume: The Story of A Murderer (one of the worst movies I've EVER seen).

Apologies. There were many positives.
Sophie NĂ©lisse, the film's star, did a fantastic job. I was consistently compelled by her performance and can honestly say I want to see more from her.
Geoffrey Rush was, of course, quite good. And the majority of the supporting cast filled their roles with a consistent level of awe. I knew every individual because there was a level of true emotion and sympathy sheening from each of their distinctive eyes.
Honestly, I can see The Book Thief being up for many awards next year in Acting, Art Direction, Costume Design, Cinematography... practically any part of the film that doesn't have to do with Screenwriting. Sorry, Markus Zusak and Michael Petroni, but a great many elements fell flat with this one.

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