The Reader

A great, Oscar-winning performance by Kate Winslet and an interesting exploration of the power of conformism are only partially ruined by some horrid directing by Stephen Daldry. Winslet plays Hanna Schmitz, a 36-year-old woman having an affair with Michael Berg, a 15-year old boy in postwar Germany. A decade later, Berg has become a law student, and he encounters his lover once again, because she’s on trial for being a guard at a concentration camp. This wreaks havoc with his boner-memories, and also creates some guilt, as he has information that could partially exonerate her. However, the same sorts of social pressures that sucked Hanna into goose-stepping are now preventing Berg from coming forward to help her. The whole thing is wrapped into a framing device wherein Ralph Fiennes plays the 60-year-old Berg looking back on his Nazi-humping past with wistfulness and that blank-eyed, distant stare that spells “acting” with a capital “A” and then a “k” and then some other letters that are so deep and powerful that you should totally pay them money to be in self-important films.

Credits

Director:

  • Stephen Daldry

Cast:

  • Kate Winslet
  • Ralph Fiennes
  • David Kross
  • Lena Olin
  • Bruno Ganz
  • Alexandra Lara
  • Hannah Herzsprung
  • Volker Bruch
  • Jeanette Hain
  • Moritz Grove

Producers:

  • Anthony Minghella
  • Sydney Pollack
  • Donna Gigliotti
  • Redmond Morris
  • Bob Weinstein

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