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November 14, 2013 - Image 64

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2013-11-14

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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64

November 14 • 2013

Di

Power, poetry of The Book Thief
translates to the screen.

M

arkus Zusak's acclaimed
novel The Book Thief could
neither compare with nor
replace the first-person reality of The
Diary of Anne Frank. The success
of the 2006 book does demonstrate,
though, that younger generations will
identify with and embrace a contem-
porary, accessible introduction to the
Holocaust.
The moving film adaptation of
The Book Thief is scheduled to open
Friday, Nov. 22, at the Maple Theater
in Bloomfield Township. Appropriate
for adolescents, it tilts slightly more
toward a coming-of-age story than a
Holocaust film. There's no question,
though, that it's the major Jewish-
themed film of the year.
"I did want to avoid the Holocaust-
movie approach because it's been
done so well at times:' director Brian
Percival said in a recent interview.

Above: Liesel (Sophie Nelisse) and her
foster father Hans (Geoffrey Rush)
share a quiet moment.

"I was never going to make another
Schindler's List. This film was not
about that. This film really was about
the human triumph:'
The Book Thief recounts the saga of
a girl named Leisel (played by Sophie
Nelisse), raised by foster parents in a
German town during World War II.
For a chunk of those harrowing
years, the Hubermanns (a kindly
Geoffrey Rush and a gruff Emily
Watson) also hide a young Jewish
man named Max Vandenburg (Ben
Schnetzer), who nurtures Leisel's bud-
ding imagination and nascent love for
words and stories.
"Max is so important because he
shows Liesel a different way to think
about the world:' Percival explains.
"There's a beauty about his outlook
that we find very engaging, and Liesel
finds it engaging enough to invest in it

A Journey Worth Every Mile

I

Ronelle Grier
Contributing Writer

4

000 Miles, the dramatic
comedy by Amy Herzog
now playing at Jewish
Ensemble Theatre, takes its charac-
ters (and the audience) on a multi-
leveled journey, with an insightful
script and superb cast
that make the trip worth
taking.
A finalist for the
2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, 4000
Miles is the story of free-spirited
Leo (Joseph Seibert) and his equally
nontraditional grandmother, Vera
(Henrietta Hermelin).
When Leo shows up unexpectedly
at Vera's Manhattan apartment after
the last leg of a cross-country bicycle
trip, they spend an edifying few
weeks getting to know each other and

themselves. While Vera is initially
disconcerted by Leo's sudden arrival,
they eventually forge a bond that
transcends their generational differ-
ences.
It would be hard to imagine a more
perfect role for Hermelin, who brings
Vera to life with all of her emotional
complexity and age-related frail-
ties. When she says, "The
worst part of being old is
not being able to find my
words," we feel her frustra-
tion and admire her acceptance of
that which is beyond her control.
She moves like a much older
woman, wincing with the effort of
rising from a chair or navigating the
single step between the kitchen and
the living room.
Seibert is genuine as the young
adult who is filled with equal mea-
sures of self-confidence and self-

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