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The Reader (2008)

A movie directed by Stephen Daldry

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"The Reader" Review

  • Feb 16, 2009
  • by

The Reader is by far the deepest film I have seen all year, maybe even ever and it was truly splendid to watch despite its subject matter. There was great acting on both Kate Winslet and Ralph Fiennes' parts. There is no doubting why this film is up for Best Picture in this years Academy Awards.

I am really appreciating the fact that so far, the films that are being nominated for best picture this year on not epic films, but just wonderful stories. Both The Reader and Benjamin Button have been great period films that have been a joy to watch even though they aren't the happiest films to watch. What caught me most about The Reader was how believable this was. This story is something that probably did happen to someone during the holocaust and that's what made the film so deep. This movie also showed how far love truly stretches over time as this film had a span of about forty years.

Kate Winslet was marvelous in this film. I haven't seen Revolutionary Road yet, but of what I have seen, this has been her best film to date. I think she really had to wear her emotions on her sleeve in order to play this role. Without giving to much away, during the trial scenes of The Reader, I was convinced she truly believed in everything she was admitting to. That she didn't know any better. There was this great line when she says, "Should I have never signed up for the SS at Siemens?" which really shook me because it wasn't said to make you feel sorry for her, but it was a valid question which made this movie even more real. So she really did an outstanding job in this film.

Who I was really impressed with was David Kross who played young Michael. He did a superb job acting and what got me most about him was how he really did look like a young Ralph Fiennes. So that made his aging all the more believable and brought a lot of life to the character. I think some of the most touching scenes in this movie are the ones in which he is watching Hannas trial. Very good bits of acting during those scenes. I also enjoyed watching the scenes between Michael and his law professor; they were very touching as well. It's funny because despite the fact that Ralph Fiennes had top bill for this movie, he didn't really have that much to do with until near the end of the film. In my opinion the two stars of The Reader are David Kross and Kate Winslet.

I do have to talk about the makeup in this film for one minute. To make this film even more realistic, the minimal amounts of makeup in this film were a great touch and what I am talking about mostly is during the sex scenes of this film. They didn't try to hide anything on these two actors. During one point when Kate Winslet is lying down, you can clearly see stretch marks on her hips close to her butt and you have t imagine that not covering those up was very intentional which I thought was a great decision. Everything about the movie was very natural.

As far as the score goes, it really helped set up the mood of The Reader with it's heavy use of string instruments. I think I started teering up at some point during the scene where Michael is walking through one of the concentration camps partly because the music was so well integrated into the scene. Nico Muhly who is a composer I have yet to really hear of did a job well done with this film.

This is a must see if you are a serious Oscar watcher and so far is my pick to win. I still have three more films to see before Sunday. The Reader gets a 5/5 for me.

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February 17, 2009
You know, I was never the biggest fan of Kate Winslet but after seeing her on The View last week and hearing her talk about her role in this movie.. I think I've changed my mind (even though I have yet to see it!). I'm really intrigued about her character in this movie and how she found a way to connect to it... def seems like a great story and I really want to know what this big secret that she holds is! Great review!
More The Reader reviews
Quick Tip by . July 18, 2010
The film that finally gave Kate Winslet her Oscar. Loved the story line and Kate Winslet definitely deserved it...
Quick Tip by . July 16, 2010
A great and understated movie. Kate Winslet was exceptional.
review by . September 22, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
The Reader was quite a surprise in 2008.  It's success is surprising because not only did it suddenly drop down from what seemed like no where, but it went on to become that "Little Oscar Movie That Could" (and couldn't).  Every year there's always one of those kinds of films out there.  In 2008 it was The Reader.  And while The Reader isn't really a bad film--there are even parts that are absorbing as hell--I can't help but admit that there were some moments when it …
Quick Tip by . June 07, 2010
A little weird, but deep.
review by . May 20, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: David Kross is kind of cute      Cons: Every--last--thing      The Bottom Line: Sitting in a cafe window watching no one walk by for 2 hours is a better way to spend that time. VERY VERY DULL.      Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot. I’ve sat through another award winning, relatively obscure drama that I found extremely boring (I just finished reviewing the boredom of The Hurt Locker). …
review by . February 21, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
THE READER in the form of Bernard Schlink's masterful book made an emotional impact on those who read it. And for once the book to film version holds nearly as much agony and beauty as the original. The screenplay is by David Hare (whose transformation of 'The Hours' was so worthy) and it captures not only the dialogue of Schlink's novel but fills in the silences with well-constructed added commentary. Stephen Daldry ('The Hours', 'Billy Elliot') directs with great sensitivity to not only the narrative …
review by . December 29, 2009
Warning: this review contains a significant spoiler. If you really have no idea what the movie is about, and don't want to know...read no further. I don't discuss anything beyond what you find in virtually any review about the film...but be warned nonetheless.     THE READER is fabulously well-acted, and thus it is a gripping drama. When it's all said-and-done, though...I was left perplexed as to how to react. I didn't have mixed feelings about it...I literally wasn't sure how …
review by . June 14, 2009
The difference between Art and mere Entertainment, is Art causes us to think and feel -- sometimes thoughts and feelings that are not exactly enjoyable. If I have ever seen a movie that is Art, it is "The Reader."    When I undertook my undergraduate studies, I decided to focus on 20th Century European History because I wanted to understand how and why the Holocaust happened. I even had opportunities over the years to talk to a few survivors of the camps and to talk with Germans …
review by . April 16, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
THE READER in the form of Bernard Schlink's masterful book made an emotional impact on those who read it. And for once the book to film version holds nearly as much agony and beauty as the original. The screenplay is by David Hare (whose transformation of 'The Hours' was so worthy) and it captures not only the dialogue of Schlink's novel but fills in the silences with well-constructed added commentary. Stephen Daldry ('The Hours', 'Billy Elliot') directs with great sensitivity to not only the narrative …
review by . April 14, 2009
For most of us our first love is something that always sticks with us, but in the case of Michael Berg (David Kross) his first love had a more lasting impression then most of us would want. At the age of fifteen he entered an affair with 36 year old Hana Schmitz (Kate Winslet in an Oscar-nominated role). The affair only lasted a summer, but it was wonderful to him. The two would have sex and then he would read to her. This was a daily pattern until one day Hana just disappeared. Years later during …
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Julian Brown ()
Ranked #34
Hi, my name is Julian Brown. I currently write for The Brotherly Game, a local Philadelphia soccer website where I cover the US Women's National Team and the local WPS Philadelphia Independence. I … more
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About this movie


Though THE READER may boast the typical pedigree of a Holocaust film--acclaimed actors, a literary source, and an Oscar-baiting end-of-the-year release date--this drama has a significant difference: it focuses on a perpetrator, rather than the victims. Kate Winslet takes on the hefty supporting role of Hanna Schmitz, a woman who has an affair with Michael Berg (German actor David Kross), a 15-year-old boy in 1950s Germany. They spend their brief romance alternately making love and focusing on literature, with Michael reading everything from Chekov to Homer to his lover. Soon, Hanna abruptly disappears, and Michael returns to his normal life. Almost a decade later, Michael is studying law, when he sees Hanna again; she is on trial for her crimes as an S.S. guard during the war. Michael is torn between a desire for justice and his knowledge of a secret that may save Hanna. <br> <br> THE READER makes full use of hindsight and historical perspective. Based on the bestselling novel by Bernhard Schlink, the s...

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 ...
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Director: Stephen Daldry
Genre: Drama
Release Date: January 9, 2009
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: David Hare
DVD Release Date: April 14, 2009
Runtime: 123 minutes
Studio: The Weinstein Company
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