Pat Young

THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PAJAMAS: Adapted from a childrenís novel by John Boynes, this movie is about an unlikely friendship between a Nazi officerís (David Thewlis) 8-year-old son (Asa Butterfield) and a young concentration camp inmate (Jack Scanlon). Unlike the stories of my childhood, this film of director/writer Mark Herman doesnít shield its subjects from the grim realities of life and death or the notion that oneís country or family member could be involved in an evil enterprise. All of the occurrences are effectively witnessed from the point of view of kids who donít really understand whatís going on around them and who are unsuccessfully trying to make sense of it all. It works well for this screenplay where most of the characters seem to be mouthpieces who symbolize varying degrees of acceptance or rejection by ordinary Germans regarding the Third Reichís institutionalized extermination of European Jews. Even the landscape contrasts the lives of those on opposite sides of the campís barbed wire fence since the outside has lush green foliage as opposed to the concrete slab-dotted earth inside the internment area. The main strength of this movie lies in its economy of storytelling. Its images speak for themselves and never need to be lingered over to have their full impact. Since a childís world is physically limited by his surroundings, the movieís narrative can never venture beyond such boundaries and it follows this rule to the benefit of the work. This is not an easy film to watch because its subject matter all but necessitates a tragic outcome. That it does so in an unexpected yet mostly believable fashion only adds to why I think this to be a well above-average movie thatís worth a look if itís still showing.

CURRENT AND NEW DVDs THAT I RECOMMEND: THE BANK JOB, THE CHRONICALS OF NARNIA: PRINCE CASPIAN, THE DARK KNIGHT, HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY, KIT KITTREDGE: AN AMERICAN GIRL, SHINE A LIGHT, TROPIC THUNDER, WALL-E