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The Book Thief (2013)

tomatometer

46

Average Rating: 5.6/10
Reviews Counted: 133
Fresh: 61 | Rotten: 72

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.

43

Average Rating: 5.7/10
Critic Reviews: 35
Fresh: 15 | Rotten: 20

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.

audience

76

liked it
Average Rating: 3.9/5
User Ratings: 42,871

My Rating

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,

Drama

Mar 11, 2014

$21.5M

20th Century Fox - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (133) | Top Critics (35) | Fresh (61) | Rotten (72)

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

November 25, 2013 Full Review Source: New Yorker
New Yorker
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

November 22, 2013 Full Review Source: Detroit News
Detroit News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

November 21, 2013 Full Review Source: Dallas Morning News
Dallas Morning News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

November 21, 2013 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
Top Critic IconTop 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.

November 21, 2013 Full Review Source: Boston Globe
Boston Globe
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Given the tough-minded tone of many young adult books turned to films, "The Book Thief's" frolicsome tone feels dated and inappropriate.

November 21, 2013 Full Review Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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.

March 24, 2014 Full Review Source: Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
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.

March 22, 2014 Full Review Source: Scene-Stealers.com
Scene-Stealers.com

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

March 10, 2014 Full Review Source: HeyUGuys
HeyUGuys

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.

March 8, 2014 Full Review Source: Movie Talk
Movie Talk

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

March 7, 2014 Full Review Source: Irish Independent
Irish Independent

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

March 2, 2014 Full Review Source: Observer [UK]
Observer [UK]

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

February 28, 2014 Full Review Source: Independent
Independent

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

February 28, 2014 Full Review Source: Irish Times
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.

February 28, 2014 Full Review Source: This is London
This is London

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

February 28, 2014 Full Review Source: Guardian [UK]
Guardian [UK]

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.

February 27, 2014 Full Review Source: Daily Mail [UK]
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.

February 27, 2014 Full Review Source: The Spectator
The Spectator

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

February 27, 2014 Full Review Source: Financial Times
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.

February 27, 2014 Full Review Source: Daily Telegraph
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

February 27, 2014 Full Review Source: Contactmusic.com
Contactmusic.com

A frank and adventurous portrayal of love in the margins.

February 27, 2014 Full Review Source: Little White Lies
Little White Lies

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

February 27, 2014 Full Review Source: Daily Express
Daily Express

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

February 27, 2014 Full Review Source: Sky Movies
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.

February 26, 2014 Full Review Source: ViewLondon
ViewLondon

What disappoints is his reluctance to engage with the matter of why many were happily seduced by the fascist propaganda - a question that is still relevant today.

February 26, 2014 Full Review Source: Digital Spy
Digital Spy

Audience Reviews for The Book Thief

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.
March 1, 2014
blacksheepboy

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.
February 23, 2014
MANUGINO
Manu Gino

Super Reviewer

Spoiler Alert - Any war movie set in Germany is doomed to an unhappy ending!
January 26, 2014
Tomassgringo

Super Reviewer

The Book Thief is a riveting drama set in the days of before the Second World War and during. This is an engaging story with a terrific cast. The film is a richly detailed tale about an adoptive girl who lives under the oppression of Nazi rule, and who defies Hitler's regime by stealing books in order to find an escape from the harsh realities of war. The plot is very well thought out, and it's told in a subtle way that you know that there is the terror of war, but the story only shows a few glimpses of that, and focuses more on the characters who are living through this dark period. Geoffrey Rush delivers a good performance here, and the rest of the cast bring something special to the screen, that really makes this a far better film than what critics have said. The Book Thief has its weak points, but overall, it's a highly entertaining and captivating picture. I felt at times, however that the film could have been better, and that some parts should have been reworked a bit to really make it standout. The Book Thief, as it stands, is a very good film, but one that could have been better. Despite its limitations, The Book Thief is worth seeing, and is a compelling drama that has plenty of worthwhile performances to make up for the lacking material. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the film, and thought it handled a dark subject matter in a subtle way, and it makes for a very good film. The Book Thief is a far better film that you might think, and though it doesn't stand out, it's still an entertaining piece of dramatic cinema, and one that relies on a cast of very talented actors and a good story to grab your attention. But like I said, it could have been reworked to make it a far more memorable film than what we got on-screen. Still, The Book Thief is worth checking out despite its flaws.
January 12, 2014
TheDudeLebowski65
Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski

Super Reviewer

    1. Hans: I?m not sure what it all meant. Everything he went through. Everything we did.
    2. Liesel: We were just being people. That?s what people do.
    – Submitted by Donna J (2 months ago)
    1. Death: I am haunted by humans.
    – Submitted by Baylee E (5 months ago)
    1. Hans: Better that we leave the paint behind, than ever forget the music.
    – Submitted by Diana R (5 months ago)
    1. Liesel: It was not always mine.
    2. Hans: Did you steal it?
    3. Max: It was not always mine.
    4. Liesel: Did you steal it?
    – Submitted by Greg J (5 months ago)
View all quotes (4)

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Foreign Titles

  • Die Bücherdiebin (DE)
  • La Voleuse de Livres (FR)
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