The Reader was a dissappointing film. While it had a good story to tell, it was edited badly so that the story was confusing and boring. However, Kate Winslet was superb in this film and definitely deserved her Oscar for the role and its almost worth watching just to watch her in this role.
Michael Berg (he is 15 by the way) gets sick on his way home from school one day. A woman, Hannah (who is in her 30’s) helps him return home. When he recovers he brings Hannah flowers as a thank you for helping him. He quickly finds himself enamored of Hannah and they have an affair. It’s a very passionate affair punctuated by him reading to her, hence the name of the movie. During the summer, they even go on a bike trip together. Then abruptly as the affair started, it ends. Hannah just leaves one day and Michael doesn’t see her again until he is in college. He is perhaps in law school and his class goes to the trial of some women who were guards at a Nazi women’s camp. There are six or so of them on trial and one of them is Hannah. He begins to struggle with the image of the woman he knew that summer and the image of the woman who could have caused the deaths of all those people. They just can’t be the same people to him. During the trial, he discovers a secret that Hannah has kept all these years, one that could prove her innocence in a very grave crime. Will he tell and save her life? Or will he let her suffer her fate? You will have to watch the film to see.
While the story doesn’t flow well, there are several important issues that are dealt with in this movie. Most of them being how one generation deals with another generations crimes or history. Its this issues (and the acting) that makes this film worth watching. But its in the way the story is told that is its downfall. Had the movie shown the trial first and then flashed back to the summer, I think the movie would have made better sense. The way it was done, I found myself asking why do I care that this boy and older woman are having an affair (except that I think it is wrong)? I think the way it was told is confusing to the audience. It just doesn’t work.
However, the acting was superb. Kate Winslet did an excellent job with this character. You can see it in her eyes and face. You can tell that this woman has seen some things and that she is tired. But you can also tell that she does feel some connection or affection for “the kid” as she calls him. Ralph Fiennes also did an excellent job he has a very expressionful face, you can almost read what he is thinking on his face. He is such a good actor. I also thought David Kross did a nice job as young Michael. You can see the boy’s eagerness, confusion, and pain on his face as only the young can express them.
This movie was a hard journey to embark on. I would say watch this movie for the acting not the story. The story is confusing and disjointed but the movie is not a total loss, it is worth watching–once.