Production qualities and tone in the first part aside, this movie tells a really touching little story from a different perspective when it comes to the Holocaust, making it into a nice study of how innocence comes into contact with industrialized brutality. Has a very sad twist at the end too.
This might work for a child audience, esp. those who might not readily identify with Holocaust victims. But wooden acting from the adults and wooden filming /sets /props made this look like a cheap TV movie. I understand those who dislike it for political reasons, but that wasn't why I rate it low. There's no menace/insight, perhaps because of the child-like innocence so crucial to the story, just sentimentality.
Seeing the Holocaust through the eyes of the children was inevitably going to be a tough experience. The film mostly succeeds in terms of narrative, emotional punch and cinematography... It just bugged me that it was spoken in English and not in German. Great actors (Farmiga! Thewlis!), and seeing a young Rupert Friend as a vicious blond nazi soldier was... kinda hot (sorry!).
I don't like at all children to be used in any movie or even in commercials. No matter what; especially not, when it comes to the Holocaust. The Holocaust is such a measureless crime against humanity & incredible horrific, it shouldn't be framed with children.