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The Book Thief (2013)


Average Rating: 5.6/10
Reviews Counted: 134
Fresh: 61 | Rotten: 73

Critics Consensus: A bit too safe in its handling of its Nazi Germany setting, The Book Thief counters its constraints with a respectful tone and strong performances.

Average Rating: 5.7/10
Critic Reviews: 38
Fresh: 16 | Rotten: 22

Critics Consensus: A bit too safe in its handling of its Nazi Germany setting, The Book Thief counters its constraints with a respectful tone and strong performances.


Average Rating: 3.9/5
User Ratings: 48,070


Movie Info

Based on the beloved international bestselling book, The Book Thief tells the story of an extraordinary, spirited young girl sent to live with a foster family in WWII Germany. Intrigued by the only book she brought with her, she begins collecting books as she finds them. With the help of her new parents and a secret guest under the stairs, she learns to read and creates a magical world that inspires them all.

PG-13 (for some violence and intense depiction of thematic material)
Directed By:
In Theaters:
Mar 11, 2014
Box Office:
20th Century Fox - Official Site



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Critic Reviews for The Book Thief

All Critics (134) | Top Critics (38) | Fresh (61) | Rotten (73)

The movie lacks the nerve to treat death as anything more menacing than the tooth fairy.

Full Review… | December 10, 2013
Top Critic

Markus Zusak's enormously successful young-adult novel seems to have been adapted as a movie for middle-aged children.

Full Review… | November 25, 2013
New Yorker
Top Critic

"The Book Thief" may not be perfect, but it may steal your heart.

Full Review… | November 22, 2013
Detroit News
Top Critic

Pretty visuals give an unexpectedly painful twist to other parts of the story.

Full Review… | November 21, 2013
Dallas Morning News
Top Critic

You just wonder if this film's audience might be happier at home, curled up with a book. "The Book Thief," perhaps.

Full Review… | November 21, 2013
Seattle Times
Top Critic

A tale of WWII Germany as seen through the eyes of a young girl, "The Book Thief" is unobjectionable, sentimental, and not a little dull.

Full Review… | November 21, 2013
Boston Globe
Top Critic

Ultimately not much more complex than the moment in which two children yell "I hate Hitler" across a lake, it imparts the message that Nazis are bad, books are good, and Geoffrey Rush would make a great dad even in WWII Germany

Full Review… | May 5, 2014

This extremely moving drama suggests the Holocaust story Ray Bradbury might have written: Events are seen through a child's eyes; books are shown to contain a healing, transformative power; and the supernatural is real, if symbolic.

Full Review… | March 24, 2014
Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

Zusak's story is stirring, and it holds the film up during most of its predictable parts, but The Book Thief never rises too far above that. The narration from Death only serves to make it more like some sort of fantastical fairy tale.

Full Review… | March 22, 2014

Regrettably this poignant and profound story, does not feel very poignant nor profound at all.

Full Review… | March 10, 2014

Showing tragic events through a child's eyes can be a powerful storytelling strategy, but there's something altogether too cosy and bland about Downton Abbey director Brian Percival's handling of the material here.

Full Review… | March 8, 2014
Movie Talk

Tthe film sees Nelisse give a wonderful performance; indeed, the performances are all round good, but the film lacks emotional depth.

Full Review… | March 7, 2014
Irish Independent

Tries to blend heartwarming moral observation with ill-fitting metaphysical contrivance.

Full Review… | March 2, 2014
Observer [UK]

The film-making style seems disconcertingly glossy given the downbeat themes.

Full Review… | February 28, 2014

The Book Thief must be accounted a failure: even Downton fans will find the rampant cosiness just a little hard to bear.

Full Review… | February 28, 2014
Irish Times

It's certainly pretty to look at, reminiscent of those Disneyland parades where horses are much in evidence, but their excrement (thanks to neat little sacks attached to the creatures' nether regions) never soils the ground.

Full Review… | February 28, 2014
This is London

It's a worryingly lenient and obtuse approach to history and historical evil, which are smothered in feelgood tragi-sentimental slush.

Full Review… | February 28, 2014

It looks marvellous: browns, beiges and greys setting off the startling red of the ubiquitous swastikas. But there is no real feeling for the catastrophe that is gathering pace in the background.

Full Review… | February 27, 2014
Daily Mail [UK]

What is The Book Thief saying? Unknown. I can't even tell you what its intentions are, or whom it is intended for, only that it lacks even a whiff of emotional heft.

Full Review… | February 27, 2014
The Spectator

Since the story is essentially Anne Frank re-gendered, why bother at all?

Full Review… | February 27, 2014
Financial Times

[Percival] certainly makes everything look pretty, although neither he nor Michael Petroni, who wrote the script, seem able to give the story a sense of momentum or tension, or even locate it in a world that's recognisably real.

Full Review… | February 27, 2014
Daily Telegraph

While there's a strong story in here about the power of literature and the fragility of life, this movie takes a far too wistful approach, so it feels like a cheesy bedtime yarn rather than a look at horrors of Nazi Germany

Full Review… | February 27, 2014

A frank and adventurous portrayal of love in the margins.

Full Review… | February 27, 2014
Little White Lies

The performances are admirable and engaging but the story is short on drama and emotional impact.

Full Review… | February 27, 2014
Daily Express

A little more darkness and a little less gloss may have better served the story.

Full Review… | February 27, 2014
Sky Movies

Ultimately something of a disappointment, thanks to sluggish direction, a curiously uneventful screenplay, a general lack of suspense and a surfeit of forced sentimentality.

Full Review… | February 26, 2014

Audience Reviews for The Book Thief

The narrative style that this movie takes isn't the worst part of this movie. Occasionally funny and sweet but not enough to save you from the boredom that ensues!

Film Crazy

Super Reviewer


Messy as this aseptic drama is from a narrative point of view, with language inconsistencies and dozens of pointless elements, it is also a mystery what it wants to say after all, lacking emotional weight and tension while being completely detached from the real world.

Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer


Courage beyond words.

Great Film! "The Book Thief" has wonderful photography by Florian Ballhaus, an excellent musical score by Golden Globe and Oscar winning John Williams, and best of all, marvelous acting from Sophie Nelisse as the young girl, Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson as her adoptive parents, and Ben Schnetzer as the Jewish boy they hide. Many of the core scenes with Nelisse, Watson, and Rush should be required viewing at any acting school. If the film has any fault at all, it is the decision by the film makers to try to walk a fine line between drama and fable. Having "Death" as the narrator right from the start seems to suggest fable, but the story itself veers sharply to drama for most of the 2+ hours, and then, noticeably at the end, reverts to fable. Some viewers may find this disconcerting. But the power of the story and the acting generally compensate for this short coming.

Based on the beloved bestselling book, THE BOOK THIEF tells the story of a spirited and courageous young girl who transforms the lives of everyone around her when she is sent to live with a foster family in World War II Germany.

Manu Gino

Super Reviewer


Spoiler Alert - Any war movie set in Germany is doomed to an unhappy ending!

Thomas Johnston

Super Reviewer

The Book Thief Quotes

Hans: I?m not sure what it all meant. Everything he went through. Everything we did. Liesel: We were just being people. That?s what people do.
– Submitted by Donna J (8 months ago)
Death: I am haunted by humans.
– Submitted by Baylee E (10 months ago)
Hans: Better that we leave the paint behind, than ever forget the music.
– Submitted by Diana R (10 months ago)
Liesel: It was not always mine. Hans: Did you steal it? Max: It was not always mine. Liesel: Did you steal it?
– Submitted by Greg J (10 months ago)

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