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The Reader (2008)

R  |   |  Drama, Romance  |  30 January 2009 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 179,539 users   Metascore: 58/100
Reviews: 364 user | 299 critic | 38 from Metacritic.com

Post-WWII Germany: Nearly a decade after his affair with an older woman came to a mysterious end, law student Michael Berg re-encounters his former lover as she defends herself in a war-crime trial.



(screenplay), (book)
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Won 1 Oscar. Another 23 wins & 44 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Friederike Becht ...
Matthias Habich ...
Peter Berg
Frieder Venus ...
Marie-Anne Fliegel ...
Hanna's Neighbour (as Marie Anne Fliegel)
Hendrik Arnst ...
Woodyard Worker
Rainer Sellien ...
Torsten Michaelis ...
Sports Master
Moritz Grove ...


THE READER opens in post-war Germany when teenager Michael Berg becomes ill and is helped home by Hanna, a stranger twice his age. Michael recovers from scarlet fever and seeks out Hanna to thank her. The two are quickly drawn into a passionate but secretive affair. Michael discovers that Hanna loves being read to and their physical relationship deepens. Hanna is enthralled as Michael reads to her from "The Odyssey," "Huck Finn" and "The Lady with the Little Dog." Despite their intense bond, Hanna mysteriously disappears one day and Michael is left confused and heartbroken. Eight years later, while Michael is a law student observing the Nazi war crime trials, he is stunned to find Hanna back in his life - this time as a defendant in the courtroom. As Hanna's past is revealed, Michael uncovers a deep secret that will impact both of their lives. THE READER is a story about truth and reconciliation, about how one generation comes to terms with the crimes of another. Written by The Weinstein Company

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Unlock the mystery. See more »


Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some scenes of sexuality and nudity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






| | |

Release Date:

30 January 2009 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

O Leitor  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$32,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$168,051 (USA) (12 December 2008)


$34,180,954 (USA) (1 May 2009)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Angelina Jolie was considered for the lead role. See more »


In the street scene just before Michael and Hanna go on their bicycle trip (1958), a Volkswagen beetle drives by which has amber turn-signals in the taillights; these were not introduced until the 1962 model year. See more »


[first lines]
Brigitte: You didn't wake me.
Michael Berg: You were sleeping.
Brigitte: You let me sleep because you can't bear to have breakfast with me.
See more »

Crazy Credits

There are no opening credits, other than the studio logo. See more »


Featured in The 66th Annual Golden Globe Awards (2009) See more »


Pueri Hebraeorum
Written by Giovanni Palestrina (as Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina)
Performed by The Philharmonischer Kinderchor Dresden
Conducted by Professor Jürgen Becker
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

A thoughtful and plausible examination of guilt.
9 January 2009 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Very well acted and presented and a faithful representation of the main points of the novel on which it is based. This film encourages us to look closely at very difficult issues surrounding the atrocities of World War II. I am at a loss to understand why so many critics have been so damning of it. Perhaps it is too subtle for them to understand. It seeks to outlaw the false and intellectually lazy theory to explain the holocaust, namely that the horrors were committed by monsters. In its place we are offered contextualization, not as excuse but as explanation of how quite ordinary people were able to do extraordinarily dreadful things. We avoid these uncomfortable facts at our peril.

175 of 205 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
What is the book that has Hannah crying? tomtac
Question about the chronology iammariian
Why didn't Michael tell someone she couldn't have written the report? icefairy88
Why wouldn't Hanna confess to being iliterate? FrauMachina
Hanna confesses that she wrote the report henriksemailskriv
What was wrong with Hanna? fer_sm90
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