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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
Producer Scott Rudin was originally a producer of the movie but he got into conflict with executive producer Harvey Weinstein. Rudin wanted to push the release date back to 2009 to avoid an Oscar campaign along with Doubt (2008) and Revolutionary Road (2008) both which were also produced by Rudin. Eventually Rudin left the film and had his name removed from the credits. Ironically, The Reader was nominated for an Academy Award 2009 in the Best Picture category (and thus got producer's nominations) but neither Doubt nor Revolutionary Road. See more »
When Michael is making the tapes, we see a notebook where he lists his recordings between 4 August 77 and 10 October 77. One of the entries is: Heinrich Böll, Women in a River Landscape. This novel was first published in 1985, so Michael couldn't have possibly read it in 1977. (Someone probably confused this title with another novel of Böll's, "Group Portrait With Lady", about the life of a woman born in 1922, which came out in 1970 and was very well received and popular at the time.) See more »
About As Unbiased and Objective As Any Form Of A Medium Can Get
The Reader is one of my favorite movies from the year 2008. It is incredibly complex in the way you react to the characters of the movie. It carries many emotions from sensuality to anger all the way back to that of sympathy and resolution. Many moves advertise themselves as unbiased and fair but nothing gets close to that like The Reader which is able to build sympathy for a character you would never think you could feel towards.
The acting in the movie was phenomenal. Especially that of Kate Winslet who draws out many emotions from whoever is watching. She plays an ex-Nazi guard who has an affair with a 16 year old boy played very well by David Kross. Her bitter, cold attitude, random behavior as well as her past history seems unjustifiable and deplorable. Yet you can do nothing more than feel empathy and compassion towards the shame and humiliation she feels about her one well kept secret. In the course of her affair she ask for one thing, to be read to. From this do you see the humanity within her. Ralph Fiennes also gave quite a nice performance as an older Michael Berg who looks back on his life and then later finds a way to open himself up through his time of self reflection and sudden realizations towards life. David Kross plays the younger Michael Berg whose performance was undoubtedly a very good one, maintaining his presence in not letting himself being totally overshadowed. Overall the performances are very deep and will keep you thinking long after you have seen the movie.
The directing and writing also was very key to the emotions felt in this movie. Every scene had to be done precisely and consistently to feel genuinely touched rather than feeling falsely drawn in. Stephen Daldry did that under his great subtle direction. The writing by David Hare allowed actors such as Ralph Fiennes, David Kross and of course Kate Winslet to give such stunning and deep performances and take the film to another level.
I found this movie to be very compelling in many ways. The emotions felt here were not cheap gimmicks but that of feeling true sympathy and forgiveness towards what we would normally describe as something wrong, shameful and reprehensible. I can't remember another film that made me feel these emotions for a character especially after learning one startling secret after another. This film succeeded in ways that almost movie would likely fail in, it did not come off as generous or light but as remarkably fair as a film or any type of medium can get shedding light on both sides of the spectrum. This is a film that is amazingly thought provoking and will bring out the humanity within all of us and should not be missed.
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