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The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

Year: 2008
Production Co: Miramax Films
Director: Mark Herman
Writer: Mark Herman
Cast: Asa Butterfield, David Thewlis, Vera Farmiga

I saw parallels in mood and tone to The Kite Runner in this film. Despite being in a serious and quite scary historical epoch, there was a Spielbergian, almost child-like quality about it, one I'm still not sure suited – particularly when it comes to the shocking resolution.

Taking the Valkyrie approach, the characters playing Germans speak the Queen's English, and the youngest of them is Bruno (butterfeidl), the imaginative son of a Nazi officer dad (Thewlis) and his pretty, loving mother (Farmiga).

Bruno's none too pleased when the family has to move from Berlin to a country estate for his father's work, and as he goes about his business trying to amuse himself around the stately grounds. He talks to the young officer who drives his Dad around, plays in the large yard and gets curiouser all the time about why his mother's warned him not to go beyond the garden gate – particularly after seeing acrid black smoke drifting over the horizon.

He eventually goes into the forest and comes to a tall enclosure surrounded by an electric fence where he befriends the titular boy, visiting him often and sneaking him food. The movie is clever to look at the proceedings from the boys' points of view, leaving them wondering what these strange new worlds they're seeing mean while you'll feel the danger and horror they're too young to understand.

The awful climax comes from right out of left field – everything else about the movie made me think there'd be a nick-of-time rescue, and even though there was no blood or violence throughout the film it still blindsided me.

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