Critic Reviews



Based on 31 critic reviews provided by
Slant Magazine
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.
Overall, it’s engaging and serves its young audience well — a rare Holocaust movie that doesn’t strain to become Oscar bait.
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.
The Book Thief has been brought to the screen with quiet effectiveness and scrupulous taste by director Brian Percival and writer Michael Petroni.
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.
"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 movie’s strong sense of empathy, enhanced by several noteworthy performances, ought to engage most viewers.
An embarrassing gut-punch of unfiltered schmaltz, but its sympathy for the devil-style humanism is well-meaning.
The Playlist
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.
Where the book had a kernel of intellectual irony to it — words betray a nation — this drama goes shamelessly for the heart.

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