Certainly well-intentioned but a little too schmaltzy to take at face value, The Book Thief presents life in Nazi Germany through the eyes of a young émigré. Given up for adoption by her mother, Liesel (Sophie Nélisse) finds a home with Hans (Geoffrey Rush) and Rosa (Emily Watson). Hans—whom she affectionately dubs Papa—teaches the girl to read. And she does, in fact, steal a number of books. That’s hardly a crime in 1940s Germany. Rush, as usual, is nearly flawless here, giving the film humanity, humor and gravity in equal measure. Young Nélisse is also worth watching, but The Book Thief just can’t overcome its overbearing sentimentality. Some of that is fine, but not when it’s the film’s most pronounced feature. Still, this is a fine adaptation of the Markus Zusak novel, just not one that has a lot of impact.
Director: Brian Percival
Producer: Karen Rosenfelt, Ken Blancato and Redmond Morris
Cast: Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, Sophie Nélisse, Nico Liersch, Ben Schnetzer, Levin Liam, Barbara Auer, Roger Allam, Kirsten Block, Carina Wiese, Hildegard Schroedter, Sandra Nedeleff and Mike Maas