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
Bruno Ganz, who play's Michael Berg's Holocaust-surviving professor here, famously played Adolf Hitler in Downfall. 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 »
Kate Winslet, I absolutely adore her, she's my favorite actress of all time. I still can't believe that she hadn't won an Oscar, her first nomination was in 1995 with Sense and Sensibility. Finally after 14 long years, she finally won the coveted award with the movie The Reader. I finally was able to see this movie the other day and it blew me away, I'm still debating if this really was my favorite Kate Winslet performance, but once again with a strong cast telling a powerful story, The Reader was definitely one of the best films out of 2008. So many holocaust films have been made, it's hard to make another that stands out, but we really haven't had a story where the Nazi guards were on trial. A lot of people debate if this movie is trying too hard to push sympathy on Kate Winslet's character, but my love for this film is to just show that they were human as well, hard to believe, but that our mothers, sisters, friends, whoever could have done something so shameful.
Michael Berg in 1995 Berlin watches an S-Bahn pass by, flashing back to a tram in 1958 Neustadt. A teenage Michael gets off because he is feeling sick and wanders around the streets afterwards, finally pausing in the entryway of a nearby apartment building where he vomits. Hanna Schmitz, the tram conductor, comes in and assists him in returning home. The 36 year old Hanna seduces and begins an affair with the 15 year old boy. During their liaisons, at her apartment, he reads to her literary works he is studying. After a bicycling trip, Hanna learns she is being promoted to a clerical job at the tram company. She abruptly moves without leaving a trace. The adult Michael, a lawyer, at Heidelberg University law school in 1966. As part of a special seminar taught by Professor Rohl, a camp survivor, he observes a trial of several women who were accused of letting 300 Jewish women die in a burning church when they were SS guards on the death march following the 1944 evacuation of Auschwitz. Hanna is one of the defendants. Stunned, Michael visits a former camp himself. The trial divides the seminar, with one student angrily saying there is nothing to be learned from it other than that evil acts occurred and that the older generation of Germans should kill themselves for their failure to act then. But Michael is conflicted on what to do, if to speak out on Hannah's behalf on some of her innocence in the murders or keep quiet.
This is one of the most powerful movies I have ever seen, it was so incredible and just heart breaking. One of the things I respected about the film was the way they handled the awkward "love story" between Michael and Hannah, she's older, he's younger, but it's not even a perverted thing, so strange to say that. I don't know how to put it exactly, but their connection was real and in some sense they both needed each other. If you have the chance to see this movie, I seriously suggest that you take it, the powerful performances really make this film captivating. The story is so heart wrenching and painful, but was told so well. Kate now finally has the award she's deserved for so long and pulls in a terrific performance with The Reader.
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