Death haunts every frame of Brian Percival’s wartime drama – with the Grim Reaper (voiced by Allam) as the narrator.
This is a beautifully crafted story of courage and determination during the Second World War, based on the international bestseller of the same name by Markus Zusak.
Unseen until the final frames, the shadowy figure casts an unsentimental eye over characters in the midst of bitter and bloody conflict.
In particular, Death is haunted by a girl called Liesel Meminger (Sophie Nelisse).
As tensions escalate across Europe, Liesel bids a tearful farewell to her Communist mother (Heike Makatsch) and is delivered into the care of foster parents, Hans and Rosa Hubermann (Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson).
With encouragement from Hans, Liesel learns to read and she develops a voracious appetite for books, which is sated in secret by the mayor’s wife Ilsa (Barbara Auer), who owns a vast library of texts, many of which would surely go up in flames at one of the Nazis’ book-burning ceremonies.
Liesel hides these visits from everyone, including her neighbour and good friend Rudy Steiner (Nico Liersch), who proudly enrols in the Hitler Youth movement.
One night, a Jewish refugee called Max Vandenburg (Ben Schnetzer) arrives at the Hubermanns’ home and they offer him shelter in the basement.
Intercut with Death’s words of wisdom, The Book Thief is a handsome and poignant drama that compels us to care about the spunky heroine as she risks her life to protect the people she loves from annihilation.
It’s on at the Hollywood Plaza from Friday February 28 to Thursday March 6.