The Reader [DVD]
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The Reader opens in post-WWII Germany when teenager Michael Berg becomes ill and is helped home by Hanna, 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. 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 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. The Reader is a story about truth and reconciliation, about how one generation comes to terms with the crimes of another
What is the nature of guilt--and how can the human spirit survive when confronted with deep and horrifying truths? The Reader, a hushed and haunting meditation on these knotty questions, is sorrowful and shocking, yet leavened by a deep love story that is its heart. In postwar Germany, young schoolboy Michael (German actor David Cross) meets and begins a tender romance with the older, mysterious Hanna (Kate Winslet, whose performance is a revelation). The two make love hungrily in Hanna's shabby apartment, yet their true intimacy comes as Michael reads aloud to Hanna in bed, from his school assignments, textbooks, even comic books. Hanna delights in the readings, and Michael delights in Hanna. Years later, the two cross paths again, and Michael (played as an adult by Ralph Fiennes) learns, slowly, horrifyingly, of acts that Hanna may have been involved in during the war. There is a war crimes trial, and the accused at one point asks the panel of prosecutors: "Well, what would you have done?" It is that question--as one German professor says later: "How can the next generation of Germans come to terms with the Holocaust?"--that is both heartbreaking and unanswerable. Winslet plays every shade of gray in her portrayal of Hanna, and Fiennes is riveting as the man who must rewrite history--his own and his country's--as he learns daily, hourly, of deeds that defy categorization, and morality. "No matter how much washing and scrubbing," one character says matter of factly, "some sins don't wash away." The Reader (with nods to similar films like Sophie's Choice and The English Patient dares to present that unnerving premise, without offering an easy solution. --A.T. Hurley
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Top Customer Reviews
The basic plot is easy enough to lay out: it is 1950's Germany; a young boy of fifteen, Michael Berg (David Kross), is sick on the streets, when an older woman in her late thirties, Hanna Schmitz (Kate Winslet), finds him and helps him home. After recovering from his illness, Michael goes back to thank Hannah in her home, and an affair begins. It lasts for one summer, and Hanna abruptly leaves without a word. Six years later, Michael, now a law student, comes across his former lover in a war trial, where Hanna is one of six female defendants - all of whom are former guards of the concentration camps. A secret, that Hanna deems so shameful that she would rather be found guilty of mass murder than disclose it, secures the tragedy of this highly emotive and moving film.
The film's narrative is told through flashbacks (though the narrative eventually catches up to the present time) from the older Michael Berg (Ralph Fiennes) and although it was so many years ago, although it was only one summer in his youth, it becomes evident that he has never moved on and has affected his whole life.
The first warning I would give about this film is to not watch it with your parents or other relatives - the first hour of the film has very graphic sex scenes and includes full frontal male nudity.Read more ›
Bruno Ganz was also a standout for me as the young lad's legal professor at Law School. I also noticed Ganz' co-star from the spell-binding 'Downfall', Alexandra Maria Lara (Traudl Junge) pop up in one of the courtroom scenes as a young Jewish woman. These two and the rest of what was largely a German cast were excellent.
A thoroughly deserved Oscar then for the leading lady, and I for one look forward to many more to come for her
During the early part of the film, Winslet has a love affair with a teenage boy, the awkwardness in their relationship is excellently portrayed and you feel uncomfortable watching this young man fall head over heels for a distant older woman. The horrors of Winslet's past comes into the open and the depiction of a woman performing inhumane acts in the genuine belief that she was only following orders is unnerving. The final part of the film shows Winslet, in her old age, childishly excited as she is contacted once again by the now older teenage boy.
David Cross and Ralph Fiennes provide excellent support and this film leaves you with a small but very real sense of what things were like during the war. There are a million war films out there but few are this thought provoking.
Kate Winslett was rightly rewarded for her portrayal of Hanna, a former prison camp guard who through her pride takes the brunt of the blame for a massacre. Ralph Fiennes gives another sad and splendid performance as her former lover.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Bought as a gift and as far as I know is an interesting film.Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer