For Hicksflicks.com, March 14, 2014

I've not read Markus Zusak's novel but the movie of "The Book Thief" (PG-13) is well worth a look, if only for the performance by Geoffrey Rush, who stands out as a foster parent to the main character, young Liesel (Sophie Nelisse), an orphan in 1938 Germany.

Liesel is illiterate and Rush's character, Hans, helps her learn to read and write, which sets fire to Liesel's already burgeoning interest in books.

Compelled to become a member of the Hitler Youth, Liesel takes a tome that survives during a book-burning rally, which leads to her being invited to borrow volumes from the vast library kept by the mayor's wife in their lavish home.

Then a young Jew (Ben Schnetzer) is taken in and hidden by Liesel's foster parents, which really begins a string of complications.

Everyone is good here, including Sophie and several other child actors, and Emily Watson as Liesel's foster mother, wonderfully allowing her hardened character to soften — just a bit — as the film progresses.

But it is Rush whose superbly modulated performance gives the film its juice, a memorable character that will stay with you when the film concludes. And which, by the way, is yet another fine 2013 performance that was passed over by the Academy Awards.