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
Drama | Mystery | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A widower is determined to get to the bottom of a potentially explosive secret involving his wife's murder, big business, and corporate corruption.

Director: Fernando Meirelles
Stars: Ralph Fiennes, Rachel Weisz, Danny Huston
Black Swan (2010)
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A committed dancer wins the lead role in a production of Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake" only to find herself struggling to maintain her sanity.

Director: Darren Aronofsky
Stars: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel
Man on Wire (2008)
Documentary | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A look at tightrope walker Philippe Petit's daring, but illegal, high-wire routine performed between New York City's World Trade Center's twin towers in 1974, what some consider, "the artistic crime of the century".

Director: James Marsh
Stars: Philippe Petit, Jean François Heckel, Jean-Louis Blondeau
The Queen (2006)
Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

After the death of Princess Diana, Queen Elizabeth II struggles with her reaction to a sequence of events nobody could have predicted.

Director: Stephen Frears
Stars: Helen Mirren, Michael Sheen, James Cromwell
Blue Jasmine (2013)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A New York socialite, deeply troubled and in denial, arrives in San Francisco to impose upon her sister. She looks a million, but isn't bringing money, peace, or love...

Director: Woody Allen
Stars: Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin, Peter Sarsgaard


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


How far would you go to protect a secret? 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?


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 Michael reads Hannah the Odyssey, he reads from the Robert Fagles translation, not published until 1996. 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 »


Featured in At the Movies: Episode #7.1 (2010) See more »


Musik liegt in der Luft
Written by Heinz Gietz, Kurt Feltz
Performed by Caterina Valente
Courtesy of M.A.T. Musice Theme Licensing Ltd.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

What Did We Learn?
5 January 2009 | by See all my reviews

Stephen Daldry knows how to tell a story, knows how important it is to make each of those characters relevant and indispensable, more importantly, emotions are finely portrayed, but it is the cerebral quality of his work that both impresses and irritates the audience. Somehow, he let go of his control and made "Billy Elliot" exuberant and glorious, with each note and emotion spilling out of the screen. His restraint might have lessened the impact of the dark nature of the tragedy in "The Hours"; somehow the balance continues in "The Reader", a powerful testament to the complexity of humans and their interactions. In "The Reader" learning occurs, consequences, origins, and motivations are carefully explored and analyzed, leaving out some of the mystery for us to decide. Choice is key here, and some choices are carry a bigger weight than others. The marvelous Kate Winslet, who should be honoured for the quality of her work, with as much recognition as it is humanly possible portrays the central character of the story, a woman whose life might have been shaped by unfortunate events, mostly undisclosed to us, and some of her own genetic makeup. We, as the lawyers and the students in the film, get to evaluate the evidence and choose to make a statement to justify hers and our own ethical standpoints. It is the intricate and deft interpretation of Hannah that anchors the story. Although, the story follows Michael and their relationship from his teenage years to the devastating conclusion, the film succeeds because Winslet is able to show every bit of the confusion, rationale, and emotion that her character possesses. She seems cold and detached, but as we look, we discover that there is more to her than we can see from the moments we see her on the screen. Hannah carries secrets inside her soul, somehow keeping herself alive, surviving, living an austere existence that hypnotizes, seduces, and repulses those she encounters. Michael is seduced by this mysterious woman, and his own future is shaped by those moments they spend together. What he doesn't realize is how big of an effect their time together will have on his life. Their early scenes are powerful and presented with a strong sense of realism and brevity. They're probable the best of the film and might have to be reviewed to understand how key they are to the further growth of Michael's life and reactions to others. Winslet does not say much, but her manipulations provoke her desired effects. As their paths diverge and meet, their relationship changes as one observes the dramatic turn of events that brings them together again, and how Michael's actions have dire consequences for both of them. It is during this period that we think we begin to see how relative everything: what is moral and immoral, logic and emotional, simple and complex. Highs and lows are hit again, as we become more involved in one of the most powerful and dramatic moments of their lives. In the final act of the film is when Winslet and Feines do some of their most outstanding work ever; she even surpassing her masterful turns in "Revolutionary Road", and "Eternal Sunshine". Every gesture, every look, every enunciation add details and shed light to who they were, are and might become. It is subtle work, haunting, and bewitching, the work very few people are able to do. "The Reader" reaches its amazing conclusion with a couple of scenes that might break whatever little strength we might still have left. "The Reader" isn't an important work, but it is a work that should be recognized by the quality of its work, a finely tuned and produced piece of cinema by people who recognize how magical, powerful, and intelligent films can be.

118 of 165 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