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The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas – BBC2

Asa Butterfield talks through a barbed wire fence to an out of focus Jack Scanlon

An emotional and harrowing Holocaust drama. 4/5 stars

This emotional and harrowing wartime drama tells of Bruno (Asa Butterfield), an eight-year-old German boy who, although initially being upset when his father's new job takes the family away from 1940s Berlin to live in the country, soon makes friends with Shmuel (Jack Scanlon), a boy of a similar age.

But Bruno doesn't understand why Shmuel can't come out of the farm he lives on and play and why he's always wearing pyjamas. The devastating subject of the Holocaust is subtly and intelligently told here through a child's eyes, but prepare yourself for a heart-rending finale.

Although the shocking, slow unravelling of the reality of the world around the boy is lost on film – as we can see what the lad clearly doesn't understand – it is still a faithful adaptation of John Boyne's bestseller.

A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.