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.)




I’d always remember this film as the one that my college Theology professor detested so much that she spoiled the entire story in one of our classes and discouraged us from ever seeing it, lest our souls burn in the pits of hell.

Being the obedient, saintly, Catholic school-raised kid that I was, of course I ignored her warning and immediately looked for a copy from my favorite mIRC channel (the cinema-related one, not the other kind). I was enthralled for two and a half hours and absorbed every “immoral” theme it had to offer. My spirit felt completely free by the time the bells started chiming in the end.

I guess I still turned out okay. (Not so sure about my soul, though.) Sadly, I never had the chance to tell my dear old teacher how much I loved it and that she “had no right to consign Bess to hell”.

Emily Watson was just phenomenal here. The rest of the cast (especially Stellan Skarsgard and the late Katrin Cartlidge) were terrific as well.

If you were able to watch the National Anthem episode of Black Mirror, you might have heard of the Dogme 95 style as part of the hostage taker’s demands in terms of filming that pig scene (“no background music, only natural light for authenticity”). That directorial choice worked really well in this one. Made me wonder if it was time to revive the Mother Lily Pito-Pito cinematic movement.

Rating: ★★★★★