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The Book Thief

8/10
War . Drama
 

While subjected to the horrors of WWII Germany, young Liesel finds solace by stealing books and sharing them with others. Under the stairs in her home, a Jewish refuge is being sheltered by her adoptive parents.

 
Actors: Nico Liersch , Emily Watson , Geoffrey Rush , Kirsten Block , Rainer Reiners , Gotthard Lange , Julian Lehmann , Heike Makatsch , Sophie Nélisse , Roger Allam
Directors: Brian Percival
Country: USA , GERMANY
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  • Richard Roeper

    This is one of the best movies of the year, featuring one of the most perfect endings of any movie in recent memory.

    Chicago Sun-Times Full Review
  • Mick LaSalle

    The resulting film has some wrong notes and touches of preciousness, but mostly it's a moving and effective presentation of life under Nazism, as seen from an unusual angle.

    San Francisco Chronicle Full Review
  • Peter Travers

    The simplicity of Michael Petroni’s script seems a drawback at first. But skilled director Brian Percival (Downton Abbey) slowly, effectively tightens the vise as evil intrudes into the life of this child.

    Rolling Stone Full Review
  • Lou Lumenick

    Overall, it’s engaging and serves its young audience well — a rare Holocaust movie that doesn’t strain to become Oscar bait.

    New York Post Full Review
  • R. Kurt Osenlund

    Books themselves become the story's key symbol, representing the past and future, loss and possibility, of a place that's ground zero for some of history's darkest days.

    Slant Magazine Full Review
  • Barbara VanDenburgh

    The children may tug at the heartstrings, but it’s the adults who give the film its heart.

    Arizona Republic Full Review
  • Dennis Harvey

    The Book Thief has been brought to the screen with quiet effectiveness and scrupulous taste by director Brian Percival and writer Michael Petroni.

    Variety Full Review
  • Peter Rainer

    It’s respectable, safe, intelligent – and a bit dull.

    Christian Science Monitor Full Review
  • Ben Kenigsberg

    "Life Is Beautiful" may or may not have set a benchmark for tackiness in Holocaust cinema, but The Book Thief offers a hypothetical way in which the former might have been worse: At least it wasn’t narrated by Death.

    The A.V. Club Full Review
  • Adam Markovitz

    It would make for a pretty ghastly pageant if not for smart, understated turns by Watson and Geoffrey Rush as the charmingly Teutonic couple who rescue both Liesel and a stranded Jew (Ben Schnezter) — not to mention the movie itself — with honorable matter-of-factness.

    Entertainment Weekly Full Review
  • Steven Rea

    Then Death feels the need to intrude again. And again. If his accent weren't so charming, his voice so resonant, it would be depressing, all this meddling and mortality.

    Philadelphia Inquirer Full Review
  • Claudia Puig

    Anchoring the story is 9-year-old Liesel Meminger (Sophie Nélisse), whose first scenes are riveting.

    USA Today Full Review
  • Stephanie Merry

    The Book Thief has its moments of brilliance, thanks in large part to an adept cast. But the movie about a girl adopted by a German couple during World War II also crystallizes the perils of book adaptations.

    Washington Post Full Review
  • Ian Freer

    Some good performances, impeccable craft and good intentions can’t compensate for a lack of dramatic urgency and emotional heft. The Book Thief is effective, but not effective enough.

    Empire Full Review
  • Paul Bradshaw

    It’s hard not to be moved by the story, but it’s only a handful of great performances that save it from underwhelming. Steal the book instead.

    Total Film Full Review
  • Stephen Farber

    You may come away more impressed by the intentions than by the achievements.

    The Hollywood Reporter Full Review
  • Elizabeth Weitzman

    The movie’s strong sense of empathy, enhanced by several noteworthy performances, ought to engage most viewers.

    New York Daily News Full Review
  • Jamie S. Rich

    The Book Thief renders a dark history in the most bland and inoffensive hues. Most of its success relies on our foreknowledge of history. Its own efforts are hollow, squandering a good cast on lazy writing.

    Portland Oregonian Full Review
  • Ty Burr

    The film is unobjectionable, sentimental, and not a little dull.

    Boston Globe Full Review
  • Michael Phillips

    It relays an uplifting story that, ill-advisedly, is not so much Holocaust-era as Holocaust-adjacent, determined to steer clear of too much discomfort.

    Chicago Tribune Full Review
  • Robert Abele

    As a showcase for accomplished performers tugging heart strings in a holiday awards season, it's perfectly serviceable.

    Los Angeles Times Full Review
  • Liam Lacey

    Directed by Brian Percival, best known for his work on "Downton Abbey," the film has the similar quality of a well-appointed historical soap opera.

    The Globe and Mail (Toronto) Full Review
  • Kevin Jagernauth

    The Book Thief covers a large span of time, but the film's episodic nature, often moving from one incident to the next with little time to pause or reflect, often obscures that fact and hinders an evocation of the cumulative effect the war has on the psyche of not just the Hubermanns, but their neighbors, too.

    The Playlist Full Review
  • Jordan Hoffman

    An embarrassing gut-punch of unfiltered schmaltz, but its sympathy for the devil-style humanism is well-meaning.

    Film.com Full Review
  • Tasha Robinson

    The Book Thief crams story after story into such a small space that it can’t realize any of them in depth.

    The Dissolve Full Review
  • Joshua Rothkopf

    Where the book had a kernel of intellectual irony to it — words betray a nation — this drama goes shamelessly for the heart.

    Time Out New York Full Review
  • James Berardinelli

    A misfire in far too many meaningful aspects, The Book Thief is so bad that it's tough to decide whether it's better used as a sleep aid or watched while under the influence as an object of derision.

    ReelViews Full Review
  • Godfrey Cheshire

    In the end, there's a distinct air of solipsism to this tale.

    RogerEbert.com Full Review
  • Marc Savlov

    On the not-much-of-a-plus side, at over two hours long, sitting through The Book Thief engenders in the viewer some serious sympathy for the interminable plight of poor, sickly Max, concealed below stairs in a dank, dark corner of the house on Himmelstrasse.

    Austin Chronicle Full Review
  • Stephanie Zacharek

    The Book Thief is just too tidy to have much impact.

    Village Voice Full Review
  • Stephen Holden

    The Book Thief is a shameless piece of Oscar-seeking Holocaust kitsch.

    The New York Times Full Review
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