The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
By CAINE GARDNER
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is simply mesmerizing. In a year dominated by the blockbuster, this film is flying under the radars of most filmgoers
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas follows a young boy named Bruno (Asa Butterfield) and his family's move to his father's new job. Moving from a massive mansion, Bruno finds himself in a smaller home that seems more of a prison than anything and with the front yard as his only place of solace; his adventurous mind begins to wander.
The day the family moves to their new house he sees a "farm" and it's workers beyond their house through his bedroom window and begins to question his mother about them. When his mother becomes uncomfortable, it's apparent there's more to the story. When one of the "farmers" comes to the kitchen the audience realizes the "farmers" are actually workers at a concentration camp.
A history-distorting teacher that describes all the evilness of the Jewish race tutors the youths of the home; then an act of compassion from one of them shows Bruno that things might not be what they seem.
Suffocated by the oppressiveness of the house, Bruno finds a way out of the yard and after venturing through the woods comes upon the camp and a child sitting at the fence in striped pajamas.
As days go by, the two youngsters continue to meet and the five feet between them is the only place of innocence that either can find. That is until one day Shmuel's (Jack Scanlon) dad goes "missing" in the camp and Bruno decides to come into the camp to help his friend find his father and discovers that the camp is not what is depicted in the propaganda films.
The final 10 minutes is, the film is where the movie will leave you breathless. Moments such as the children moving through the camp among masses and Bruno's father (David Thewlis) racing to get to the camp in time will leave your jaw clenched and leave you with a moral dilemma. As much as you hate Thewlis' character and the deeds he's done, you can't help but hope that he will arrive in time to stop the inevitable.
Images are littered throughout the film that hint at what atrocities are occurring in the background. Any film that has the Holocaust era serving as a backdrop automatically has an elevated amount of tension. Add to that two children whose innocent eyes are filtering those atrocities that are occurring for the audience and it becomes gut wrenching.
Thewlis is brilliant as the career-driven father and both of the young actors deliver in every way.
The scene that sticks with me involves a man from the camp named Pavel (David Hayman). From early on, we see and hear how the Nazis that occupy the house treats them, but Pavel is who comes to the rescue when Bruno falls from a swing. The person who has had the most unimaginable circumstances happen to him is the one who shows the most compassion in the entire film. After mending Bruno's knee, the child is hurried out of the kitchen by his mother (Vera Famiga) who struggles and then finally thanks Pavel, whose eyes rise in amazement at the gesture.
Final Cut: Definitely a must see. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is heartbreaking, mesmerizing and a movie that will linger with you long after you leave the theater. Possible the best movie you'll see all year.
3.5 out of 4 stars
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
Starring: David Theslis, Asa Butterfield, Jack Scanlon
Dir: Mark Herman
Writing: John Boyne (novel), Mark Herman (Screenplay)
Run time: 1hr. 33 min.