I rented this strange film on the weekend, having wanted to see it for a while now. I say strange because, well, it doesn't seem like a story that should work as a film. It's not much of a story at all actually, just "a single premise" as a friend of mine described it.
It does work, though, I think. The characters, led by 8-year-olds Bruno and Shmuel are compelling enough that one really wants to find out more.
We see the events from Bruno's point of view, and so only get small glimpses of what is actually going on, which is that the family moves to the country for his father's new role as Commandant of a camp in World War II. Bruno goes exploring, finds the camp fence and makes friends with Shmuel. They become friends, make plans... and I won't tell you the ending.
I thought all of the acting was wonderful. I can't think of a single performance that wasn't up to scratch. But Asa Butterfiled and Jack Scanlon, as the two boys, were outstanding. They're so young, and it's such a difficult concept. It would have been easy to expect such young boys to play it melodramatically, but they were both natural, compelling actors. I also loved David Hayman as Pavel, the Jewish kitchen-hand/servant.
Definitely one worth watching. Just be prepared for quite an emotional ride.