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DVD Review: The Boy In The Striped Pajamas

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From Miramax, the distributors that brought us the Academy Award-winning film Life Is Beautiful, comes this distinctive drama about a forbidden friendship. An upsetting and overwhelmingly depressive eye-opener, The Boy In The Striped Pajamas is a film you’re likely to watch only once, but won’t soon forget. It's a harrowing, thought-provoking, family-oriented film with stand-out performances from Vera Farmiga as the distraught mother and Asa Butterfield as a naïve eight-year-old boy. Mark Herman directs from a screenplay he adapted from a novel by John Boyne.

Set during World War II amidst the disturbing acts of the Holocaust, The Boy In The Striped Pajamas centers on a friendship between a young Jew stuck behind the electric fence of a concentration camp and an innocent boy named Bruno who befriends him. But things take a turn for the worse when Bruno decides to assist the boy in the striped pajamas by providing food, company, and the fun that was denied to Jews during the Holocaust.

Although the film lacks a certain amount of empathy for the characters, The Boy In The Striped Pajamas is an unforgettable and inspiring film that benefits from magnificent acting, top-notch directing, and a superb script. It's an undeniably good, if somewhat sloppy, depiction of the Holocaust from a child's point of view.

It’s like a well-proportioned meal of your not-so-favorite dish — well-made, good for you, but hard to swallow. This profound, disturbing, and fairly powerful historic story about a verboten friendship is tediously paced, but is held together by tense and frightening situations and a knockout cast. A handful of considerably talented actors helps cover a multitude of flaws.

While it had the potential to be one of the year’s best it falls short by being obvious and not as emotionally compelling as it might have been (it's not as touching as some make it out to be). Nonetheless, The Boy In The Striped Pajamas is a highly recommended, if modestly executed, film.

 The special features consist of some deleted scenes (with optional commentary by writer/director Mark Herman and author John Boyne),  "Friendship Beyond The Fence Featurette" that explores the importance of costume designs, hair styles, and includes interviews with the cast and crew, and a commentary track by Herman and Boyne.

 

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