This article contains spoilers
Cast your mind back to every history lesson you have ever had. At some point in our lives we have all learnt about Hitler and Nazi Germany, Concentration Camps and World War Two. The Book Thief (a film based on the bestselling book by Australian author Markus Zusak) is set in Nazi Germany and shows us what life possibly could have been like in Germany living under Hitler’s Nazi regime.
The Book Thief is Sophie Nélisse’s (Liesel) biggest film. She starred in her first film role at the age of 10 in Monsieur Lazhar. Markus Zusak was quoted to say how perfect Sophie was for the role. She had an aura about her that connected extremely well with her character. Her German accent was exquisite and her acting was first class, with great chemistry towards her co-stars (Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson and Nico Liersch to name a few) and an amazing presence on screen. Geoffrey Rush, as usual in his films (The King’s Speech, Pirates of the Carribean, Elizabeth) was magnificent. There is no doubt that the casting team did a great job.
However, the film does have two major weaknesses. The first is its narrator. Now, this isn’t completely the fault of the production because Markus wrote it to be narrated by death. But each time the voice over came it felt like it was just interrupting the story and we just wanted his narration to end. It gave the film a very stop-start feel which is a shame considering that the story and the actors and the rest of the portrayal was brilliant. The second weakness was its ending. I’m sad to say it was extremely cliché. A bomb hits the road that Liesel and Rudy live down, killing everyone except Liesel of course. Rudy dies in her arms just as he is about to say I love you, and then it jumps into the future with death’s final speech upon Liesel’s passing. It was quite an anti-climax, killing everyone off except for the main character and then the cliché “about to say I love you but dies” moment, it all felt rather false when everything else felt so real, and that is a real shame.
95% of this film is fantastically brilliant. It really is quite a shame that the last 5% did not live up to the rest.