The Reader

The Reader

(2008)

The Reader opens in post-WWII Germany when teenager Michael  becomes ill and is helped home by Hanna (played by Kate Winslet, in her Oscar winning performance), a stranger twice his age. Michael recovers from scarlet fever and seeks out Hanna to thank her. The two are quickly drawn into a passionate but secretive affair.... More

Michael discovers that Hanna loves being read to and their physical relationship deepens. Hanna is enthralled as Michael reads to her from The Odyssey, Huck Finn and The Lady with the Little Dog. Despite their intense bond, Hanna mysteriously disappears one day and Michael is left confused and heartbroken.

Eight years later while Michael (now played by Ralph Fiennes) is a law student observing the Nazi war crime trials, he is stunned to find Hanna back in his life - this time as a defendant in the courtroom. As Hanna's past is revealed, Michael uncovers a deep secret that will impact both of their lives.Hide

Flicks Review

Who says Holocaust films can't be sexy? For the first hour of The Reader Kate Winslet is mostly naked and always fabulous in playing Mrs. Robinson to a 15-year-old boy. It's the late '50s in Germany, and the spring and autumn lovebirds wile away the after-school hours by working their way through literature's greatest hits.... More

Based on the best-selling novel by Bernhard Schlink, this is a refreshingly literate film. Winslet berates her young consort for reading out Lady Chatterley's Lover. "You should be ashamed of yourself," she says, before adding: "Go on." This revere only lasts until a freight-train straight from the stockyards of Auschwitz crunches into the narrative.

In the hands of a lesser filmmaker this change in tone might prove more catastrophic, but director Stephen Daldry instead uses the build-up to fashion a tragic love story with no easy payoffs. Daldry is helped immeasurably by his cast in fashioning this masterpiece - Winslet in particular. The one-time Titanic pinup has shed her girly image and here plays a character who convincingly ages over the course of four decades.

The best film of the year so far, which leaves one final question: How on earth did Slumdog Millionaire win the Oscar for best picture?Hide


The Peoples' Reviews

Average ratings from 17 ratings, 17 reviews
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Stephen Daldry maintains a tight, exemplary, direction of a film which offers a lot with its script but fails to realise its potential.

The key problem being that the middle of the film whets the appetite with some juicy courtroom scenes and lecture theatre postulating, which tempts the viewer to think the movie will seek to analyse that great unanswered question in Holocaust pictures - "why did they?". But instead it veers off into the unsatisfying unspoken, ongoing, romantic entanglement... More angle.

But just because the scriptwriters bailed out on the better plot line doesn't make this a poor film, as Daldry's work keeps you watching.Hide


Ignore the knockers. Only a minor bit of pruning would have made it 5-star in my estimation. The rest has pretty much been said already.


Very enjoyable movie, true to the book and thought provoking. Kate Winslet deserved the Oscar for her portrayal of Hanna. David Kross was great in his role, one to look out for, he is going to make a great actor.


Brilliant movie. I totally disagree with some of the put-downs published so far. Ignore them!


Well, a little slow, heaps of lines seem to be missing explaining various parts of the movie but a very moving , sad story of pride out of control by the lady.


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The Press Reviews

61% of critics recommend.
Rotten Tomatoes Score. More reviews on Rotten Tomatoes

  • The crucial decision in The Reader is made by a 24-year-old youth, who has information that might help a woman about to be sentenced to life in prison, but withholds it. He is ashamed to reveal his affair with this woman. By making this decision, he shifts the film's focus from the subject of German guilt about the Holocaust and turns it on the human race in general. Full Review

  • As both an intellectual and emotional experience, this perfectly realised movie is one that will stay with me for a long time. Full Review

  • The epitome of middle-brow 'quality' drama -- admirable within its limitations, but Bernard Schlink's Oprah Winfrey Book Club-approved book wasn't exactly literature, as this isn't exactly cinema. Full Review

  • An engaging period drama. But German postwar guilt is not the most winning subject matter for the holiday season. Full Review

  • It is only, frankly, the strength of Winslet's performance that rises above conventional surroundings and makes The Reader the experience it should be. Full Review

  • The film is neither about the Holocaust nor about those Germans who grappled with its legacy: it's about making the audience feel good about a historical catastrophe that grows fainter with each new tasteful interpolation. Full Review

  • Pleasingly adult material powered by elegant, muscular performances. A strong adaptation of a slippery novel. Full Review

  • Stephen Daldry's film is sensitively realized and dramatically absorbing, but comes across as an essentially cerebral experience without gut impact. Full Review

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