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05 Dec 2008 06:00
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
Mark Herman’s child’s-eye tour of the Holocaust treads such a fine line that its fate hangs in the balance until the very end. It is a kind of dark reimagining of The Secret Garden that tells the story of Bruno (Asa Butterfield), the blue-eyed son of a Nazi officer who befriends a mysterious kid (Jack Scanlon) from what he assumes is the local farm, passing him pastries through a gap in the electric fence.
The acting is heartfelt, but the film carries a heaped cargo of conceits that has it wavering between the stark and the sentimental, the nuanced and the schematic (were camp inmates really able to slope off for a casual chat with passers-by?). The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas shows its true colours. It knuckles down, crawls on its belly and goes the way you least expect it.—Xan Brooks
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