When little orphan Liesel (13-year-old Sophie Nélisse) first meets her foster parents in 1939 Germany, her frosty new mom (Emily Watson) hisses, ”Look at the girl. She’s filthy.” But grime is exactly what’s missing from this schmaltzy take on Markus Zusak’s 2005 best-seller, The Book Thief, directed by frequent Downton Abbey helmer Brian Percival. The Liesel we see is spotless; she has adorable pin curls and radiates klieg-light levels of wholesomeness. As she comes of age during wartime, the terrors of the Third Reich are bathed in a cozy, Thomas Kinkade-style glow that makes even swastika flags seem like festive holiday decorations, and any plot point that wouldn’t pair with a swell of violins has been neatly excised. It would make for a pretty ghastly pageant if not for smart, understated turns by Watson and Geoffrey Rush as the charmingly Teutonic couple who rescue both Liesel and a stranded Jew (Ben Schnezter) — not to mention the movie itself — with honorable matter-of-factness. B-
BOOK COVER This adaptation of the 2005 bestseller struggles to bring the novel to life. (Jules Heath)
Genre: Drama; Starring: Sophie Nelisse, Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson; Director: Brian Percival; Release Date Wide: 11/15/2013; Runtime (in minutes): 131; MPAA Rating: PG-13; Distributor: 20th Century Fox Film Corporation
Posted November 20 2013 — 12:00 AM EST
- Mark Hamill to return as The Joker for 'The Killing Joke'
- Hugh Jackman shares final ‘Wolverine’ teaser image
- Casting Net: Morgan Freeman leads up action film 'Down to a Sunless Sea'
- 'The Bachelorette': And the 'winner' is...
- Richard Linklater in talks to direct Jennifer Lawrence in 'The Rosie Project'
- 'All the Bright Places' starring Elle Fanning finds its director
- HBO developing new Wild West drama series 'Untamed'
- Stars go back to work! 'Scandal,' 'Arrow,' 'The Good Wife,' more return to set
- Charlie Hunnam and Excalibur glisten in 'King Arthur' first look photos
- Here are the 2015 games we're looking forward to most
- #50Scoops50Days: Keep up with the latest in fall TV news
- Ashley Madison profiles for TV's most famous adulterers
- Matthew & Keri, Katy Perry, Cate Blanchett & More!