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Review: 'The Book Thief,' Starring Geoffrey Rush, a Well-Meaning but Oddly Muted Holocaust Tale

Photo of Meredith Brody By Meredith Brody | Thompson on Hollywood November 8, 2013 at 12:59PM

"The Book Thief," adapted from Markus Zusak's best-selling novel, is a well-meaning re-telling of the oft-told tale: the Holocaust was a time of unimaginable horror, but even during the worst moments of man's inhumanity to man, there were good people around who adopted the children of Communists and sheltered Jews in their basements.
Geoffrey Rush and Sophie Nelisse in "The Book Thief"
Geoffrey Rush and Sophie Nelisse in "The Book Thief"

Markus Zusak’s international bestseller “The Book Thief” has been brought to the screen with quiet effectiveness and scrupulous taste by director Brian Percival and writer Michael Petroni. This tale of Nazi Germany seen from a child’s perspective translates into solidly engaging drama, albeit one that may not be starry, flashy or epic enough to muscle its way into the front ranks of awards-season contenders. Bolstered by the novel’s fans, the Fox release (which opens limited Nov. 8) should ride solid reviews and word of mouth to midlevel prestige returns in line with such comparable medium-scaled WWII dramas as “The Reader” and “The Pianist.”

This article is related to: Books, Reviews, Reviews, Festivals, The Book Thief

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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.