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The Reader [DVD]
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on 30 September 2017
A film which leaves a very deep impression and one well worth seeing if only for the brilliance of Kate Winslet as the nervy, somewhat robotic character and her involvement with a 15-year old boy who is affected for the rest of his life because of that brief period in his life. Some aspects are quite disturbing in that you have to question how you would deal with the situation she was involved in during the time of the Nazi atrocities. Later, you might be putting yourself in his shoes and questioning his decision and how you would react in the same circumstances and with the same situation confronting you. A challenging film for reasons you will only understand when you see it.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 10 January 2014
This is a review of the two-disc edition. It does not include any plot spoilers.

I work as an usher at the local arts centre cinema. `The Reader' was my film of the year for 2009. I was moved by its portrayals, by the story. It is also a brave film and many critics misunderstood its message. It is a film in three acts, all set in Germany and all featuring the relationship between Hanna and Michael: Neustadt in 1959, Heidelberg in 1966, and Berlin in 1995. But the story itself is played out over all five decades.

The first act is a touching love story: Michael tells us, "I was fifteen. I was coming home from school. I was feeling ill and a woman helped me." There is then a sudden turn into the second, where we enter a court room and come face-to-face with what Hannah Arendt famously described as `the banality of evil', the warped logic of mass murder. What is so moving is the act of pride to hide shame, but it is shame for the wrong reason. (In a sense the shame would still be there whatever crime had been committed, but what blurs the principle in this case is that the crime is heinous.) The third act attempts to be redemptive in all sorts of ways and all sorts of levels.

This is a film full of questions, replete with points for discussion. I cannot remember a film that is so questioning of the relationship between principles and their application in law and in morality. It is a gift to teachers and students of philosophy, history, or jurisprudence as there is plenty here for discussion in the classroom and in the pub. For example, after watching this film, do you feel sympathy for Hanna? And, if so, does that make you uncomfortable?

What of the extras on disc two? There are, firstly, twelve deleted or extended scenes, taking up almost an hour in length. There are short pieces with composer Nico Muhly, production designer Brigitte Broch, and with Kate Winslet herself in make-up. There is a ten-minute conversation between director Stephen Daldry and new-star-on-the-block David Kross. But the longest extra is the twenty-three minute `making of', which features Daldry, screenwriter David Hare, original author Bernhard Schlink, and various contributions from the principal actors.
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on 16 January 2012
Kate Winslet's performance is remarkable in this film. If you are more accustomed to seeing her in such sugary nonsense as 'The Holiday', desparately trying to convince us she could fall for Jack Black, (she fails in that btw) here she shows that she's more than capable of taking on one of the most challenging roles imaginable for an actress. She succeeds completely, brilliantly convincing as a solitary 35 year-old tram conductress who has an affair with a young lad. The power of her performance grows as, ageing gradually for the remainder of the film - a huge challenge for a bubbly, beautiful woman like her, she continues her solitary meaningless existence as a 'victim' herself.

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
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on 1 July 2012
First things first: if you already have the DVD, is it worth replacing it with this Blu-ray? I think, yes: there's greater visual quality and a sense of 'realism'; I guess the sound quality also improves. I don't think (not having owned the DVD) that there are any additional extras in the Blu-ray.

Second: if I haven't seen this film, should I? Yes: it's a serious, melanchonic and challenging account of the critically acclaimed book. I won't spoil the plot; suffice it to say that you will gain a greater insight into the story each time you watch it; it stands many replays - I think you'll experience lots of "oh, so THAT'S why..." moments.

The packaging liner notes highlight "this tale of eroticism, secrecy.." etc. Well: as other reviewers have (rightly) noted, there are several intimate sex scenes in the first hour or so of the movie. Each encounter illustrates how the relationship between Hannah (Kate Winslet) and Michael (David Kross?) matures; so, while these sex scenes are 'intimate', they're not gratuiously 'sexy', as the blurb might suggest. When Michael sees Hannah years later, in a different context, those scenes help us understand his dilemma: understanding a defining adolescant (sexual and romantic) relationship with Hannah Schmidtz, against something utterly repugnant that he now faces as a law student - visiting, as part of his syllabus, a Nazi war trial. But there's more to it, than this...

Bottom line: This is a serious, thought-provoking film. Performances by the three main players (Kate Winslet, Ralph Feinnes, David Kross) are brave and moving. Bruno Ganz ('Hitler' in the Downfall movie) is also great; as is Alexandra Maria Lara ('Traudl Junge' in the Downfall movie). Very highly recommended.
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on 24 February 2013
I have read the other reviewers comments & found them interesting. The film touches on some difficult &highly emotive subjects, but none the less has been skilfully put together as seen through Michaels eyes.Some reviewers found the sexually explicit scenes difficult. However, I felt it demonstrated how Michael was in some ways morally corrupted & sadly influenced his future relationships with women.
The writer has skilfully further complicated maters by introducing the fact that his lover had been a concentration camp guard & was now on trial for war crimes. Perhaps love knows no bounds& maybe your first true love maybe your only love. The film has been lovingly crafted with the initial scenes from the fifties with Michael as a boy progressing into a young man. The later scenes from the seventies are also faithfully captured. Not a happy ending, but then it was never going to be. A clever film, well acted & directed with thought provoking material. Recommended.
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on 13 March 2016
Most things have been said by former reviewers. This excellent movie is not only thought-provoking, it is tender and raw at the same time. Her loneliness and shame, her guilt and innocence are all intertwined.

What I found most satisfying were the extra's on the blu ray disk. Here we have the deleted and extended takes of many scenes, that speak for themselves. If they had been included, many riddles and confusions would have been better understood. Maybe it would have been a good idea to have made a director's cut with the now lacking scenes. The movie then would be over two hours, but who cares?
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on 8 March 2010
An immensely beautiful and throught-provoking movie that very much encapsules not only the story, but the subtext and atmosphere of the novel by the same name.

I was taken by the acting feats of Kate Winslet and David Kross who play Hannah and young Michael respectively. Less so by Ralph Fiennes.

"The Reader" is a story of guilt and inherited guilt, knowledge, justice, morals - and so much more shown in the relationship between Hannah and Michael. First, they meet when Michael is but a teenager and have a passionate affair. Then, they meet when Michael is in law school and Hannah is on trial for murders committed during WW2. Finally, they meet towards the end of Hannah's life, after Michael has sent cassette tapes of novels to her in prison.

Reading plays a beautiful role in the movie (and the novel) as a passionate gesture, knowledge or lack thereof, and as a penance.

In the special features, it is mentioned that "The Reader" is required reading in German schools. It should be international required reading - or at least watching. The movie is the visual counterpart of the novel and an accurate one at that.

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on 23 June 2009
`The Reader' is the film that finally won Winslett her Oscar and it has to be said that her performance in this film is very worthy. Saying that, all of the performance's from all involved are very strong and the direction is superb as well. The Amazon synopsis explains the story very well, as do other reviews here, but suffice to say this is a richly woven story with an interesting analysis of human nature. Most WW2 or holocaust films can be particularly harrowing and although this is also the case with this film (but only in places) the emphasis is most definitely on the human relationships involved rather than graphic details of cruelty. The relationship between the young Michael and Hanna is intriguing to watch, with an unusual dynamic that is explained as the film develops and you begin to understand why she enjoys being read to so much. The relationship between them when Michael is an adult is more complex and conducted from afar and both these aspects of their relationship are portrayed extremely well. This is quite slow going in places but is worth persevering with and this makes for a couple of hours good viewing and engrossing drama. Well worth a try and worth the plaudits it has received.

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on 13 December 2017
Actually a really great story, very thought provoking, the lengths some people will go to hide their embarrassment at not being able to read - Kate was excellent in the role
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on 3 June 2014
The story in this film is interesting and different; it didn't appeal to me greatly because I am more a fan of the action or mystery genres but that said I still watched it comfortably to the end. The acting and photography are good and the score flows nicely. I would recommend this film to anyone who likes films related to WWII and also to those people who like films with a twist at the end. It's a must-see for fans of Kate Winslet!
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