Starring: Asa Butterfield, Vera Fermiga, Rupert Friend
Director: Mark Herman
Running Time: 94 mins
The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas is a British film about a young German boy who, after his family move nearby a concentration camp, befriends a Jewish boy within the camp in secret from his SS officer father.
This is, at times, an impacting and fascinating story about the Second World War, telling a different story about the impact of the Nazis’ actions on many normal German people. However, it is also very cheesy a lot of the time, and not so heavy-going given its subject matter, which isn’t particularly impressive to see.
Let’s start on the positive side, however, with the central performance by a young Asa Butterfield. In a film that has as much cheese in its story as this, you’d expect that a child in the main role would be insufferable. However, Butterfield is both likeable and believable as an innocent young boy who just wants to be friends and help this Jewish boy, something that works wonders for making the story engaging and at times more emotional.
As well as that, there are definitely times throughout this film where there’s a lot of heavy-going emotion. Whether it’s just pure tears, or more difficult unnerving conflicts that arise, this can be a hugely intriguing film to watch.
However, it’s a shame that it’s not like that the whole way through, because in those moments, it really is impressive. The majority of the story is pretty slow and very weak, with little bearing to the heavy nature of the Holocaust, so at points, it doesn’t even feel like you’re watching a film about it, just some sort of average period drama.
What’s more is that the entire atmosphere of this film is too upbeat. Apart from the grittier, darker parts, the music, the directing, everything seems too positive, and although that does reflect the young boy’s mentality, it still just doesn’t sit right with the subject.
Overall, this gets a 7.5 from me, because despite its moments of brilliance and a very strong central performance, this can be disappointingly cheesy and weak.