The Reader

"Good"

The Reader Review


Mein Kampf meets Penthouse Forum in Stephen Daldry's The Reader, a chilly and surprisingly detached adaptation of Bernhard Schlink's passion play about a susceptible yet pensive teenage horn dog seduced by the former, female SS trooper who popped his cherry.

Reader reunites Daldry with his The Hours screenwriter, David Hare, and the two collaborate on another aloof, literary period picture. The action transitions between 1995 and 1958, when 15-year-old Michael Berg (David Kross) first comes under the spell of Hanna Schmitz (Kate Winslet), the stern but attentive woman who paid him a bit of kindness after the boy was felled by Scarlet Fever.

Their kinky relationship is fueled by carnal and intellectual curiosity. Hanna willingly beds this overeager virgin, then requires that he read to her as both foreplay and post-coital wind down. Winslet and Kross go largely au natural for Michael and Hanna's formative scenes. Clothing, in fact, is optional through most of Reader's early scenes. College students spend more on fast food than Daldry spent on costumes. The film alternates chapters and sex, sex and chapters. And we await the heartbreak that usually follows when a young person (or older person, I suppose) gives of their soul so completely.

Daldry has a hard time with the tonal shifts of Reader, though. He makes an odd choice painting Michael's raw, sexual awakening on a dull palette of bleached and muted colors. Despite all the love-making, Reader is about as sexy as a wool coat. And the tone contradicts Kross's openhearted, wholly amorous performance as the smitten teenager. Winslet playfully banters with her willing partner, but saves her fireworks for the next act.

Daldry's somber mood makes far more sense in the film's stronger second half, when Hanna stands trial for war crimes committed at concentration camps and Michael contemplates whether he should reveal knowledge that could prevent serious jail time for the penitent Nazi. Daldry continues his time shifts back to 1995 to raise questions about Michael and Hanna's relationship while adding mysteries which are carefully guarded by Ralph Fiennes, who is effective as the older version of our young Romeo.

Fiennes has had a tremendous year, juggling killer comedy (In Bruges) with royal philandering (The Duchess). Here, he brings closure to Michael's difficult journey by showing us how Hanna stirred a second passion in the character: one for justice, one for the law. It's not about titillation. The Reader is a film about life's transitions. And like any kind of rude awakening, it is alternately painful, perplexing, awkward, melodramatic, and slow to overwhelm.

NILF!



The Reader

Facts and Figures

Run time: 124 mins

In Theaters: Friday 30th January 2009

Box Office USA: $34.1M

Budget: $32M

Distributed by: The Weinstein Co./MGM

Production compaines: Mirage Enterprises, The Weinstein Company, Filmförderanstalt (FFA), Deutsche Filmförderfonds (DFFF), Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, Mitteldeutsche Medienförderung (MDM), Filmstiftung Nordrhein-Westfalen

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 61%
Fresh: 118 Rotten: 75

IMDB: 7.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Hanna Schmitz, as Michael Berg, as Young Michael Berg, as Brigitte, as Professor Rohl, Hannah Herzsprung as Julia, as Marthe, Volker Bruch as Dieter Spenz, as Young Ilana Mather, Fabian Busch as Hanna's Defense Council, Vijessna Ferkic as Sophie, as Carla Berg, as Peter Berg, Burghart Klaußner as Richter, Sylvester Groth as Staatsanwalt, as Gerhard Bade

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Hampstead Movie Review

Hampstead Movie Review

Deliberately appealing to older audiences, this undemanding comedy-drama comes with a hint of social relevance...

The Book of Henry Movie Review

The Book of Henry Movie Review

Apparently, this offbeat script had been making the rounds in Hollywood for some 20 years...

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

With this fifth Transformers movie, it seems clear that Michael Bay is still trying to...

Churchill Movie Review

Churchill Movie Review

This drama about the iconic British prime minister tells a darkly personal story set over...

Gifted Movie Review

Gifted Movie Review

This is one of those films that dances right up to the edge of soapy...

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Notorious British filmmaker Nick Broomfield teams up with Austrian music documentary producer Rudi Dolezal to...

The Mummy Movie Review

The Mummy Movie Review

To launch their new Dark Universe franchise, Universal has taken an approach that mixes murky...

Advertisement
My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

Daphne du Maurier's 1951 mystery-romance novel has been adapted for theatre, radio, TV and film,...

Wilson Movie Review

Wilson Movie Review

It's never helpful when a comedy becomes a bit too smug about its own quirkiness....

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

A fictionalised story from the life of Wolfgang Mozart, this lavishly produced period drama is...

The Hippopotamus Movie Review

The Hippopotamus Movie Review

This British satirical comedy may be a bit of a mess, but since it's based...

Detour Movie Review

Detour Movie Review

This may look like a rather typical American indie thriller, but British filmmaker Christopher Smith...

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Boldly optimistic, this action-packed adventure breathes fresh life into the DC universe with a welcome...

Baywatch Movie Review

Baywatch Movie Review

Clearly, it's a risky proposition adapting a cheesy vintage TV series for the big screen:...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.