392 user 302 critic

The Reader (2008)

2:31 | Trailer

Watch Now

From $6.99 (SD) on Prime Video

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)
1,011 ( 205)
Won 1 Oscar. Another 25 wins & 47 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A young couple living in a Connecticut suburb during the mid-1950s struggle to come to terms with their personal problems while trying to raise their two children.

Director: Sam Mendes
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Christopher Fitzgerald
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Two girlfriends on a summer holiday in Spain become enamored with the same painter, unaware that his ex-wife, with whom he has a tempestuous relationship, is about to re-enter the picture.

Director: Woody Allen
Stars: Rebecca Hall, Scarlett Johansson, Javier Bardem
Milk I (2008)
Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

The story of Harvey Milk, and his struggles as an American gay activist who fought for gay rights and became California's first openly gay elected official.

Director: Gus Van Sant
Stars: Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, Emile Hirsch
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

The story of a forbidden and secretive relationship between two cowboys, and their lives over the years.

Director: Ang Lee
Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Heath Ledger, Michelle Williams
Biography | Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Biopic of the iconic French singer Édith Piaf. Raised by her grandmother in a brothel, she was discovered while singing on a street corner at the age of 19. Despite her success, Piaf's life was filled with tragedy.

Director: Olivier Dahan
Stars: Marion Cotillard, Sylvie Testud, Pascal Greggory
Precious II (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

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.

Director: Lee Daniels
Stars: Gabourey Sidibe, Mo'Nique, Paula Patton
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

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 Massachusetts.

Director: Todd Field
Stars: Kate Winslet, Jennifer Connelly, Patrick Wilson


Cast overview, first billed only:
Carla Berg
Emily Berg
Thomas Berg
Friederike Becht ...
Angela Berg
Peter Berg
Frieder Venus ...
Marie-Anne Fliegel ...
Hanna's Neighbour (as Marie Anne Fliegel)
Hendrik Arnst ...
Woodyard Worker
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


Behind the mystery lies a truth that will make you question everything you know. 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 USA:

$168,051, 14 December 2008, Limited Release

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The Latin lines Michael quotes to Hanna are "Quo, quo scelesti ruitis? Aut cur dexteris / aptantur enses conditi?" These are the opening lines of Horace's 7th Epode, a short poem where he expresses outrage at the fact that his countrymen are still engaged in civil war. "Villains, where are you rushing to? Why are your hands / Grasping those swords that were sheathed?" (translation A.S. Kline). The Greek lines he quotes are the opening stanza of Sappho's 16th fragment: (transliterated) "Oi men ippeon stroton, oi de pesdon, / oi de naon phais' epi gan melainan / emmenai kalliston, ego de ken' ot- / to tis eratai". "Some say a host of horsemen, others of infantry, and others of ships, is the most beautiful thing on the dark earth: but I say, it is what you love." (translation Denys Page). 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 »


[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 »


Referenced in The Oscars (2013) 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

See more »

User Reviews

About As Unbiased and Objective As Any Form Of A Medium Can Get
28 January 2009 | by See all my reviews

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.

177 of 230 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 392 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page