'The Book Thief' is a respectable but dull adaptation of the hit novel

( PG-13 ) ( Monitor Movie Guide )

'The Book Thief' stars Sophie Nélisse, Geoffrey Rush, and Emily Watson.

Jules Heath/20th Century Fox/AP
'The Book Thief' stars Geoffrey Rush (l.) and Sophie Nélisse (r.).

Markus Zusak’s mega-bestseller “The Book Thief’ has, inevitably, been made into a movie, a rather stodgy and old-fashioned one by director Brian Percival.

In war-torn Nazi Germany, Liesel (Sophie Nélisse) is sent to live with foster parents, kindhearted Hans (Geoffrey Rush) and flinty Rosa (Emily Watson), and grows up fast. When the parents hide a Jewish refugee (Ben Schnetzer) in their basement, the boy's and girl’s mutual passion for books takes hold as the world collapses around them.

Nélisse is a captivating young performer, and Rush and Watson give depth to what might otherwise have been mere star turns, but the movie never comes to a boil. It’s respectable, safe, intelligent – and a bit dull. Grade: B- (Rated PG-13 for some violence and intense depiction of thematic material.)

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