The film suffers from some minor flaws which detract from the overall effect.
As she becomes weighed down by the shocking truth of the concentration camps, Elsa’s health begins to deteriorate.
Farmiga portrays Elsa’s breakdown in mind and body with convincing honesty and vulnerability.
However, the various subplots and Bruno’s internal struggle keep the film from dragging too much.
“The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” seems somewhat muted and slow for a Holocaust movie, but it’s this same slowness that makes the moments of intense emotion even more powerful.
Bruno (Asa Butterfield) is the eight-year-old son of a Nazi Captain (David Thewlis) who has been transferred to the German countryside to oversee a concentration camp.
Bruno, leaving behind his friends and home in Berlin, is anything but ecstatic about his family’s move to a lonely country estate. The “farm” is actually the concentration camp his father supervises.
The effortlessness and skill with which he portrays Bruno draws the audience into what can be, at times, a repetitive plot.
Vera Farmiga, as Bruno’s mother, also stands out in the film.
Unable to comprehend the gravity of Shmuel’s situation, Bruno is simply content to have found a playmate.
Though Bruno is confused by Shmuel’s constant hunger and the strange “pajamas” he wears, the boys forge a fast friendship.