by Zion Reyes
Plot Synopsis: Bruno, a naive, young boy from Berlin during WWII, is confronted with the news that he has to move to the countryside because of his father’s promotion and reassignment in the German Army. He finds himself homesick and bored, having lost all his friends back in Berlin and spends his time exploring the expanse of his estate. Before long, he finds the hidden reason why his father has been relocated; a large concentration camp is only a few miles from his house, but Bruno doesn’t know the real reason why they’re there and only believes that he has found a farm filled with strangely dressed farmers. There he meets a young Jewish boy named Shmuel and becomes fast friends with him, going to great lengths to hide his everyday excursions to the camp to hang out with him from his family. Meanwhile, Bruno’s mother discovers the truth about about the concentration camp and takes the news harder than naive Bruno did. Bruno’s mother has many arguments with Ralf, Bruno’s father. Eventually the arguments culminate in Bruno’s mother, Bruno, and his sister all moving to Heidelberg with Ralf staying at the camp to watch over it. Bruno, saddened by this, decides to adventure with Shmuel one more time, but it leads him to a gas chamber where they both die.
Movie Review: The subject matter of WWII is constantly rehashed by Hollywood, what with so many movies such as Dunkirk, Inglourious Basterds, and Saving Private Ryan, but this movie is quite unique. Unfortunately, with great potential comes great responsibility, and in my opinion I feel that this movie isn’t as good as when I first saw it many years ago. After revisiting it with a different mind than what I had in 8th grade I found the acting to be stiff, for lack of a better word. The movie is overall quite well done, for a setting of the countryside there is little in the way of modern noises or distractions that would have detracted from the movie experience, and the soundtrack of mostly classical music is a nice touch. But throughout the movie I couldn’t help but feel like something was off with all of the characters, especially from the children. Come to think of it, the adults in the movie were quite good at acting. If the movie was mainly focused on them then the mediocre acting of the children could have been overlooked, but since much of the movie was focused on Bruno, an 8-year old, there was no avoiding the “off-ness” of his acting, which seemed to have rubbed off onto the other actors as the movie went on. Perhaps his mediocre acting had somehow overshadowed any of the decent acting of the other actors. Bruno speaks in a strange combination of having too much emotion and no emotion at all, which cancels each other out into whatever comes out of his mouth. He also uses a facial expression throughout the entire movie as if someone were dubbing in his dialogue for him, even though he was clearly the one speaking. It’s a melting pot of everything that you shouldn’t do as an actor and any theatre teacher can attest to this. But despite his amateur acting, the ending was really something to behold. I won’t spoil anything, but if you’re willing to drudge through one and a half hours of one looks like the acting of an elementary school play the ending is worth it. I give it 7/10.