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The Boy in the Striped Pajamas needs a wake-up call

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As the Holocaust recedes into history, nudged back by more recent tolerated genocides, pat dramas such as The Boy in the Striped Pajamas begin to seem more like exercises in complacency than condemnations of it. The baldly manipulative story involves a Nazi SS officer (David Thewlis) who becomes commandant of a death camp and moves his wife (Vera Farmiga), daughter (Cara Horgan), and young son (Asa Butterfield) into a country house nearby. The little boy quickly finds the camp while roaming around, and befriends a mournful Jewish kid (Jack Scanlon) on the other side of the wire. This might have had some potential as a German exercise in self-examination, but as a tony BBC Films production, with the actors all speaking British-accented English (including Jersey girl Farmiga), it reeks of self-righteousness. Mark Herman (Little Voice) directed his own script, adapting a children's novel by John Boyne.

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