THE READER

BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELL
DECEMBER 23, 2013

Nothing short of brilliant, Stephen Daldry’s “The Reader” is a twisting turning drama with stunning performances and constant surprises, delving into an interesting structure in which to tell a story. Ralph Fiennes plays brooding lead man Michael Berg, whose thoughtful performance bookends the film, as the rest of the story is told through flashbacks of his life, encountering the love his life in the much older Hanna Schmitz, played by the graceful and enigmatic Kate Winslet, who captures every essence of this role and makes it her own. A sexual coming of age for young Michael Berg (David Kross), his relationship with Hanna stems from mutual pleasure in sex and reading, to which Michael reads to Hanna from the books he brings from school. Early on you realize Hanna’s secret, but the film plays out as if you’re not aware, which holds back the narrative slightly and causes some anticlimactic revelations late in the film. The real twist comes when the relationship ends and Michael goes off to college to study law. Involved in a trial for Nazi war crimes, Michael makes a shocking discovery that changes the course of his life and the rest of the film. “The Reader” hinges on exquisite storytelling and exhilarating performances from both Winslet and Kross, who both reach beyond what you believe they are capable of and turn in some truly unforgettable deliveries. Fiennes, too, brings the film full circle in a way only he can, and with enough emotion to end up breaking your heart, Daldry achieves his gold of getting the viewer to feel for these characters. Not nearly what I was expecting from this film, it deserves the attention that it received and will continue to be one of the best films from all those involved.

RELEASE DATE
December 12, 2008

DIRECTOR
Stephen Daldry

WRITTEN BY
David Hare

BASED ON
“Der Vorleser”
by Bernhard Schlink

STUDIO
The Weinstein Company

R
(for some scenes of sexuality and nudity)

DRAMA
ROMANCE

124 minutes

CINEMATOGRAPHER
Chris Menges
Roger Deakins

COMPOSER
Nico Muhly

EDITOR
Claire Simpson

CAST
Kate Winslet
Ralph Fiennes
David Kross
Lena Olin
Bruno Ganz

PRODUCED BY
Anthony Minghella
Sydney Pollack
Donna Gigliotti
Redmond Morris

BUDGET
$32 million

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