Film Review: The Book Thief

The Book Thief

Director Brian Percival’s cinematic adaptation of The Book Thief is engaging and entertaining. The film delivers a captivating tale with a rich historical context.

Young Liesel is sent to live with a foster family in Germany during World War II. Whilst there, Liesel discovers a love of reading that will transform the lives of those around her…

The Book Thief is a successful drama thanks to its strong writing. The main characters in the film are well developed, relationships appear natural, and situations are believable. The use and choice of narrator is an extremely effective tool in framing The Book Thief as a story, and serving as a reminder of the vulnerability of the characters.

With a child protagonist, The Book Thief counterbalances youthful discovery with a very real and harrowing period of history. The World War II setting is absolutely essential to the narrative. There are aspects of the film that are rather dark, reflecting the time and actuality of the historical setting. Michael Petroni’s adaptation of Marcus Zusak’s novel does not shy away from revealing the horrors of war or the insidiousness the Nazi regime. Yet at the same time there is a positive story of a young girl finding friendship in dark times and discovering a passion that shapes her life.

For viewers that have not read the book, Brian Percival’s film is furnished with a sense of trepidation. This is partly due to the choice of narrator reminding the audience of the ephemeral nature of existence. However, it is also thanks to the dangerousness of the setting that viewers will be concerned about the fate of the protagonists. The beauty of The Book Thief is that it compels its audience to care.

Performances in the film are great, with Sophie Nélisse strong as Liesel. Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson are well cast as Liesel’s foster parent. Some special effects are a little inauthentic, but thankfully these are not used too often.

The Book Thief is a wonderful story which is likely to absorb viewers throughout.

Stuff To Look At

Plenty of cinematic delights, including the latest trailer for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, a clip from The Book Thief and more…

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Here is the latest trailer for Captain America: The Winter Solider. The film sees the return of Chris Evans in the title role, plus Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury and Scarlett Johansson as the Black Widow. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is due for UK release on 28th March 2014.

The Book Thief

Based on the best-selling book by Markus Zusak, The Book Thief stars Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson. The above clip is from the story, which is set during World War II. The Book Thief is released on 31st January 2014.

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues

Anchorman 2 poster

Following the release of the latest trailer for Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, here is the new poster for the film. The film seems to be pushing the 1980s setting, which is never a bad thing. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues hits UK screens on 20th December 2013.

Non-Stop

Thriller Non-Stop stars Liam Neeson as an Air Marshall in a very perilous position. The trailer reads like Speed on a plane. Non-Stop is due for release on 28th February 2014.

American Hustler

Christian Bale is barely recognisable in American Hustler. It’s like the 1970s threw up all over David O. Russell’s film. Also starring Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustler hits screens on 20th December in the West End and 3rd January 2014 nationwide.

The Butler

Lee Daniels’ The Butler is just brimming with stars. Led by Forest Whitaker, the film also stars Oprah Winfrey, John Cusack, Mariah Carey and many others. The Butler is released in the UK on 15th November 2013.

Report: London Film Festival Press Conferences – Week 2

The King’s Speech

Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter and director Tom Hooper attended the press conference for The King’s Speech. Helena commented that she was unaware of the extent of George VI’s speech impediment before coming to the project. She suggests that the film shows a “fresh angle on a very famous period of history, for us, the abdication. The abdication came very close to a proper crisis in the monarchy. So the pressure on him and, and the personal crisis – that was totally new to me”.

Helena also joked that she took the part so she indulge in being the queen. She states; “I’ve played a few queens lately and they are really enjoyable. I just do queens”. Geoffrey remarked that; “I’ve always had an intriguing, fascinating obsession with the whole dynasty of British royalty back a millennia and a bit… The House of Windsor, which is still with us, for me is the first sort of reality TV show”.

Colin mentioned that he had to do a lot of the research, even though it was the third time he had played someone with a stammer. He explained: “As anyone who has experienced it would probably have been able to tell me, it’s not going to be the same for everybody, it won’t feel the same. What you’re going every time, of course is, what you’re really playing is not stammering. That’s really what you’ve got to worry about, because that’s what the person is going through”.

Read the I Heart The Talkies review of The King’s Speech

Black Swan

The Black Swan press conference was attended by director Darren Aranofsky, producer Scott Franklin and stars Mila Kunis and Vincent Cassel. Darren Aronofsky commented that it was difficult to penetrate the ballet world at the beginning of the project. He commented: “It took a very, very long time. And slowly but surely we met a few dancers that were interested in sharing their stories, and we did a lot of research”.

Darren explained that it was difficult to get parties interested in making Black Swan, despite his success with The Wrestler. “Because we had so little money” he states, “every single day was really difficult. There was never any easy days. Every day was like “Oh my gosh, we have to do all that today?””.

Vincent Cassel expressed that it was easy working with Natalie Portman. He explains; “She was very focused on the dancing, in a way – I have to say – that I was impressed with the amount of work that she put into the physical transformation”. Mila echoed these sentiments, saying Natalie was “fantastic to work with”.

Read the I Heart The Talkies review of Black Swan

Film Review: The King’s Speech

The King’s Speech has ‘Oscar contender’ written all over it. From the wonderful performances and Tom Hooper’s direction to the costuming and score, the film is sure to garner numerous nominations.

The Duke of York is crippled with a speech impediment that greatly hinders his public service. This is only an intermittent issue; as it is his brother Edward VIII who is due to assume the throne after the death of George V. As Bertie begins treatment with the unorthodox Lionel Logue, however, the need for public speaking becomes much for necessary…

The King’s Speech boasts a story that is unfamiliar, despite the fame of its protagonist. While most will be aware of the story of Edward VIII’s abdication of the throne, his brother’s speech impediment is a far less familiar tale. Furthermore, Lionel Logue is a little known name. The film sheds light on this interesting character, as well as depicting a side of George V seldom seen.

Screenwriter David Seidler does a great job of combining personal interaction with historical fact. The King’s Speech flows nicely from the momentous moments of early twentieth-century British history to the private sessions between Bertie and Lionel, and the conversations between the future king and Elizabeth. The film is peppered with humour, which often breaks more serious moments. The combination of comedy and drama works adeptly. The King’s Speech is serious enough that the decisive scenes retain poignancy, but funny enough to remain entertaining and enjoyable to watch.

Colin Firth gives an excellent performance as the Duke of York; his stammer is wholly convincing. The character demands sympathy for his obstacles, and Firth effectively achieves this. Geoffrey Rush is great as Lionel, bringing plenty of humour, as well as depth. Helena Bonham Carter conveys both strength and warmth in her role as Elizabeth.

The sets and costumes appear wholly authentic of the era. Tom Hooper shows a flair for lavish period drama with The King’s Speech. The camera work is faultless, and the tracking shots used in the film’s climax are a nice touch in particular. Alexandre Desplat’s score seems entirely in keeping with the tone of the film.

The King’s Speech is a wonderful rendering of an interesting real life tale. It is certainly worthy of the praise it will inevitably receive.

The King’s Speech is being screened at the British Film Institute’s London Film Festival in October 2010.