The lives of two lovelorn spouses from separate marriages, a registered sex offender, and a disgraced ex-police officer intersect as they struggle to resist their vulnerabilities and temptations in suburban Connecticut.
A poet falls in love with an art student who gravitates to his bohemian lifestyle -- and his love of heroin. Hooked as much on one another as they are on the drug, their relationship alternates between states of oblivion, self-destruction, and despair.
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
Stephen Daldry's first choice for the lead role was Kate Winslet, who originally turned down the offer due to a scheduling conflict with Revolutionary Road (2008). When Nicole Kidman accepted the role, the producers built in a hiatus in order to allow her to finish filming Baz Luhrmann's Australia (2008). However, by the time Kidman was set to begin her scenes on the film, she withdrew because of her pregnancy, vacating the role. Winslet, who was now available, agreed to replace Kidman. See more »
When Older Michael first gets into his car, it is completely covered with dew or raindrops. In the following scene, the car is totally dry. See more »
The Reader is off to a brilliant start with convincing characters,
superb acting and looming tragedy, but seems to lose its sure footing
as it heads toward a conclusion that feels partly carelessly planned
and mainly lacking direction. It decreases the most potent revelations
and resides on a powerful love that was successfully sustained only
during the beginning. Once again the order of events are jumbled on the
timeline and an unexpectedly long ending detracts from the impact of
the most poignant moments, not least of which is an undying love story
that overshadows the historical importance of the war crime trials that
set up a heartbreaking reunion.
In 1958 West Germany 15-year-old Michael Berg (David Kross) is escorted
home by a mysterious woman after becoming ill. Diagnosed with scarlet
fever and bedridden for three months, he eventually seeks out Hanna
(Kate Winslet) to thank her for her aid. Soon the two begin an unlikely
(and very graphic) affair that lasts the duration of the summer Hanna
is distant and uncompassionate, but Michael finds himself hopelessly in
love (he insists on knowing her name by the third day they are
together). Before each sexual tryst Michael reads to Hanna starting
with his school assignments; a German play, Homer's Odyssey,
Huckleberry Finn, The Lady with the Little Dog and eventually he even
reads comic strips.
One day Hanna vanishes, and Michael is left to return to school, study
law, and carry on relationships with people his own age. In 1966, while
attending a trial for German guard crimes against Jewish prisoners, he
spies Hanna as one of the defendants. Years later, torn between
remembering the great flame they shared and condemning her for her
crimes, Michael is haunted by the trial and determined to sort out his
feelings of guilt and love.
It's certainly a unique angle to show a sympathetic lead character
toward Holocaust involvement. As author Bernhard Schlink wrote about
his novel, on which the film is based, "The Reader is not a story about
redemption or forgiveness. It is about how my generation of Germans
came to terms with what the generation before us had done." He
challenges the viewer with transcending guilt, the ability to choose
love and the complexity of monstrous actions undertaken by ordinary
people. The film is splendidly emotional and comes very close to being
phenomenal. The drawn out conclusion is a meditation on the power of
love and its ability to overcome exceptionally trying junctures and
even to overcome time itself. Morally devastating but not emotionally
involving enough to attain instant masterpiece status, The Reader still
boasts outstanding performances, a beautiful score and a moving tale of
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