The Book Thief

Rated 2.0

It is tempting to dismiss Brian Percival's The Book Thief on the grounds that “we don't need another Holocaust movie.” Besides being glib, this attitude presumes that there's a limit on the number of cinematic stories that can be harvested from any one subject or setting, and wrongly values content over substance. In regard to The Book Thief specifically, it suffices to say that we don't need another insipid, honey-glazed, grossly self-important awards grubber about any subject at all. Sophie Nélisse plays Liesel, an illiterate but plucky blond girl adopted by a couple of working-class Germans (including Geoffrey Rush, acting on auto-twinkle) at the dawn of World War II. The cutesy framing device of Death narrating his affection for Liesel while the Holocaust discreetly occurs off-screen leaves a bilious taste. Too often, The Book Thief feels like Hallmark Presents: Kristallnacht, A Coming-of-Age Story.