In New York City's Harlem circa 1987, an overweight, abused, illiterate teen who is pregnant with her second child is invited to enroll in an alternative school in hopes that her life can head in a new direction.
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.
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 »
In a 1976 scene, the Calculator seen on the desk when Michael is reading "The Odyssey" at night is presumably an OEM-Version of the Casio LC-403B. This calculator came on the market around 1985. 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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