‘The Reader’

Based on the novel of the same name by Bernhard Schlink, The Reader, set in Germany, is a thoughtful examination of guilt and the struggle to come to terms with the immediate past – and the Holocaust in particular.

Barrister Michael Berg (Ralph Fiennes – Harry Potter, The English Patient) looks to his early 1960s younger self (David Kross – The Keeper, Balloon) and the affair with the illiterate Hanna Schmitz (Kate Winslet – Titanic, Steve Jobs), twenty years his senior. Her sudden disappearance is explained a few years later when Michael, now a student of law, recognises her in court accused of mass homicide as a camp guard in Auschwitz. Sentenced to thirty years, Hanna is due for parole – and it is to Michael the authorities turn.

Multiple explorations of guilt are explored in David Hare’s (The Hours, Denial) script – from the Nachgeborenen, (those who came after generation), Michael’s own shame of his affair as a minor with such a woman, of not speaking up at Hanna’s trial and, years later, ignoring his former lover. Director Stephen Daldry (The Hours, Billy Elliot) sensitively focuses on the moral ambiguity of the story yet The Reader is more cerebral than emotional, stolid rather than moving.

Nominated for 5 Oscars in 2009 including best film, director and adapted screenplay, won 1 for best actress.

Rating: 60%


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