The Boy in the Striped Pajamas Mark Herman

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas Mark Herman
Holocaust films are never easy to watch but it is a blessing to find a death camp film genuinely uplifting without resorting to sentimental pandering. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas proves to be ahead of this niche, similar in mood and tone to Roberto Benigni's Life is Beautiful or The Diary of Anne Frank, in terms of finding the humanity in the Holocaust, and even helping mature pre-teens start understand the most horrific event of the 20th century. Mark Herman's intimate adaptation of John Boyne's novel focuses on the tentative friendship between Bruno (Asa Butterworth), the eight-year-old son of a concentration camp commandant, and Shmuel (Jack Scanlon), a young boy who lives in the camp. Both lads are oblivious to the horrors occurring around them, which means they're free to enjoy each other's company as two young, decent souls-in-training. However, the position of Bruno's father (played by David Thewlis, reaching peak career crustiness) obviously threatens the fragile but touching bond the boys share. The story is structured strongly enough to not have to exaggerate the dynamics of the characters into unnecessary sentimentality; this is enforced by strong performances from the entire ensemble, with the equally ghost-eyed Butterworth and Scanlon the clear standouts. James Horner's overly syrupy score being the only Hollywood hindrance in an otherwise subtle and character-driven film. Boy was unfairly derided upon release by some who accused the film of acting as cloying Oscar bait, but it deserves a second chance on video. DVD extras include deleted scenes, a behind-the-scenes featurette and illuminating commentary from Herman and Boyne. (Maple)