MOVIE REVIEW: THE BOOK THIEF (Brian Percival, 2013)



My notes on The Book Thief:

1. The movie’s narration felt whimsical, like a voice-over in a children’s flick. Until I realized the owner of the voice after which I experienced a severe case of goosebumps.

It’s a slowly-paced but emotion-packed film narrated by Death. Bring a box of tissues.

2. For a Holocaust movie, there were so many light moments that always elicited some chuckles. Even in Nazi Germany during World War II, life was still beautiful.

3. Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson were just brilliant. I was a bit disappointed with Sophie Nelisse, though. She just looked too passive in some scenes. Or maybe it was just because Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson were too brilliant.

4. As someone who wouldn’t read a book without a plastic cover and would never open it wide enough to cause a crease on its bridge, the scene where they burned books gave me the chills.

5. If I haven’t warned you enough, the last act made me crawl into a fetal position and weep hysterically.

Rating: ★★★★☆

(Originally published February 25, 2014.)




My notes on Collateral Beauty:

1. The movie started with Will Smith (as Howard, an advertising executive) delivering a supposedly empowering and emotional speech to his team (“We all long for love, wish for more time, and fear death”), but said message closely resembled the coffee commercial asking us “Para kanino ka bumabangon?”. I actually expected him to take a sip of Nescafe after every dramatic pause. How could advertising illuminate other people’s lives if we’re dealt the same treacly platitudes?

2. Trauma caused by the death of a loved one should be a gold mine for emotional manipulation (nothing wrong with it, if executed properly). Instead, the movie decided to be a dark comedy where Howard’s co-workers slash friends hired professional actors to play abstract characters (Love, Time, and Death) that interacted with him and made him appear all sorts of crazy. Some friends, no?

3. I liked how the movie raised the discussion on bereavement hallucinations. Maybe this could help explain all the ghost stories of loved ones visiting us days after their death. Or why I would imagine a giant KFC chicken on our dining table Temptation Island-style whenever I would go on these unsuccessful New Year’s resolution diets.

4. One character mentioned that “casting is very important” and it couldn’t be more true in this one. Without Smith, Kate Winslet, Edward Norton, Keira Knightley, and Helen Mirren, among others, this probably would have been a Christmas TV movie on Lifetime.

5. Speaking of Mirren, she performed a holiday miracle here by making the most out of a thankless role (“It turns out Death was an elderly white woman.”). Her character kept complaining that she should have played all the parts and at some points, I actually wished she did.

6. As a huge Winslet fan, I had always been fascinated with her wobbly American accent and her waterloo was always the word “absurd”. I swear, check out her other films.

7. I think my eyes rolled out of their sockets in the scene where Howard described the experience of seeing his newborn daughter with “I looked at her and I realized I wasn’t feeling love, I have become love.” Another reason why I would never be a father.

8. The digital manipulation done on Howard’s breakdown videos must have cost these characters a fortune. Surely, there were better and more cost-efficient options.

9. Twist after (predictable) twist that didn’t really matter. Everything felt inauthentic down to the buckets of tears that flowed in every other scene. Boo hoo indeed.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆