Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

Released: 2008

Reviewed: 11.3.09
Star rating: 4 out of 5

Asa Butterfield (Bruno), Jack Scanlon (Shmuel), David Thewlis (Father), Vera Farmiga (Mother), Cara Horgan (Maria), Amber Beattie (Gretel), Rupert Friend (Lt. Kotler), Richard Johnson (Grandpa).

When Bruno and his family move from Berlin to Poland, Bruno makes friends with a boy named Shmuel who lives on the other side of a fence and wears striped pajamas. Unaware that his friend is in a Jewish camp or that his Nazi father controls the camp, Bruno tries to build a normal friendship with Shmuel without either realizing the dangers they face.

It is hard to write a review for this movie without giving away the plot, which is incredible. The film starts with character development and slowly unfolds the plot which is mainly psychological and apparent only toward the end of the film. Until then things proceed at a leisurely pace without apparent direction other than the friendship between Bruno and Shmuel and revelations about the depth of the Nazi fathers involvement in the war effort.

Acting helped to make this film as good as it was. Most everyone involved was believeable and seemed to have good energy despite the mild tempo of the film. Farmiga was a pleasure to watch, as was Friend.

Camera work was good while sets and background, though quite simple, added depth to the film. Sound and dialogue were nicely done as well and the film had an overall quality feel.

The meat in this one however is the plot. Though it is about the Holocaust, this isn't a historical representation, documentary, and may not have much basis in truth. This is the story of a German boy and a Jewish boy making friends on the front lines of the war, nothing more so don't expect it.

Overall the film will probably have a significant emotional impact for adults and is worth a spot in the top half of your Must See list. Younger viewers may find the Holocaust material mildly disturbing but will probably have lost interest well before it is obvious, otherwise this one is fine for any age group.

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