1 hour, 34 minutes
PG-13 Parents Strongly Cautioned.
for some mature thematic material involving the Holocaust.
DVD Features: Deleted scenes (with optional commentary by writer/director Mark Herman and author John Boyne); Friendship Beyond the Fence featurette; Feature commentary by writer/director Mark Herman and author John Boyne.
Asa Butterfield ... Bruno
Jack Scanlon ... Shmuel
Domonkos Németh ... Martin
Henry Kingsmill ... Karl
Vera Farmiga ... Mother
Cara Horgan ... Maria
Zsuzsa Holl ... Berlin Cook
Amber Beattie ... Gretel
László Áron ... Lars
David Thewlis ... Father
Richard Johnson ... Grandpa
Sheila Hancock ... Grandma
|Based on the
2006 novel by John Boyne, this is a wrenching
Holocaust story about a young German boy and his forbidden friendship
with a Jewish child. Bruno (Asa Butterfield, in his first major role) is living a charmed life
in Berlin as the son of a high-ranking Nazi soldier (David Thewlis "Naked"), who is suddenly sent to be an unnamed location out in the country.
Bruno, as well as his sister Gretel (Amber Beattie "Walking to Nairobi") and mother (Vera
Farmiga "The Departed") must all move to his father's new post. Lonely and
confused by his new surroundings, Bruno doesn't understand why he
can't wander the grounds or play at the nearby farm. Particularly upset is Grandma (Sheila Hancock "3 Men and a Little Lady"), who's critical of her son's elevation within the Nazi Party.
But, the "farm," is actually a concentration camp, though Bruno doesn't know it. He
soon sneaks away to explore along the fence where meets Shmuel (newcomer Jack Scanlon) a prisoner in the camp. Shmuel is eight, the same age as Bruno, and the two form a careful friendship, playing checkers and catch through the
barbed wire fence. Bruno knows that his friendship with Shmuel is
dangerous, but after witnessing brutal violence against
some people who seem to be kind, he begins to question what it is that makes the Nazi hate these people. When pressed, Father tells Bruno what he's doing is "for the good of the
country" and he's "trying to make the world a better place." To keep
Bruno and his elder sister occupied, he
arranges for a stern tutor, Herr Liszt (Jim Norton "Driving Lessons"), to come by. Bruno is not quite sure what to make of his father, whom he
once thought was a hero. When he learns that Shmuel is in trouble,
he vows to help him, and together the boys form an outrageous plan that
culminates in the film's devastating climax.
Both Vera Farmiga and David Thewlis are excellent, while young Jack Scanlon and
Asa Butterfield, are equally impressive in their roles and Rupert Friend ("Pride and Prejudice") is chillingly cool as a handsome blond lieutenant whom Gretel falls for. This deeply
moving and disturbing film was directed by Mark Herman ("Brassed Off") who co-wrote the screenplay with the author. It is a remarkable
story, told with masterly intelligence and unusual grace.