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The Reader (2008)

R  |   |  Drama, Romance  |  30 January 2009 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 177,309 users   Metascore: 58/100
Reviews: 364 user | 298 critic | 38 from

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)
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Won 1 Oscar. Another 24 wins & 43 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Friederike Becht ...
Matthias Habich ...
Peter Berg
Frieder Venus ...
Marie-Anne Fliegel ...
Hanna's Neighbour (as Marie Anne Fliegel)
Hendrik Arnst ...
Woodyard Worker
Rainer Sellien ...
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


Unlock the mystery. 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:

$168,051 (USA) (12 December 2008)


$34,180,954 (USA) (1 May 2009)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


In 2005, Kate Winslet appeared on the English TV comedy series "Extras" as a bawdy, irreverent version of "herself." In that guise, she made fun of actors who do movies about the Holocaust specifically to try to win Oscars. Her "Kate Winslet" character denies that she is making a Holocaust movie for noble reasons like using her profile to keep the message alive about the Holocaust: "And I don't think we really need another film about the Holocaust, do we? It's like, how many have there been? You know, we get it - it was grim, move on. No, I'm doing it because I've noticed that if you do a film about the Holocaust - guaranteed Oscar! I've been nominated four times. Never won. The whole world is going 'why hasn't Winslet won one?'...That's it. That's why I'm doing it. Schindler's Bloody List. The Pianist. Oscars coming out of their arse." Three years later, Winslet made The Reader (in which she played a guard at the Auschwitz Concentration Camp) and did win an Oscar for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role. 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 »


Referenced in De wereld draait door: Episode #4.86 (2009) 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 (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Reading, Writing and the Wonderful Kate
10 December 2008 | by (Silver Lake, CA) – See all my reviews

David Hare wrote one of my favorite female characters in "Plenty", Meryl Streep brought her to life in the most extraordinary way. Here, Hare writes another power house female character. It doesn't have the intellectual aspirations of "Plenty" but there is also a form of mental illness in his character. Kate Winslet is magnificent. Her early scenes with the wonderful David Kross are filled with compelling, contradictory and totally believable undertones. My misgivings are to be pinned on Stephen Daldry, the director. His sins as a filmmaker start to become a sort of trade mark, visible and palpable in the moving "Billy Elliot" and the shattering "The Hours" I can't quite pinpoint what it is but in "The Reader" that element is more obvious than in the other two. Maybe it has to do with loftiness. There are moments so frustratingly long and slow here that he lost me in more than one occasion. In any case, the cast makes this film a rewarding experience. Besides Kate Winslet and David Kross. The tortured Ralph Finnes has a couple of wonderful moments as well as Bruno Ganz and Lina Olin in a dual role.

101 of 163 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Question about the chronology iammariian
Why didn't Michael tell someone she couldn't have written the report? icefairy88
Why wouldn't Hanna confess to being iliterate? FrauMachina
Hanna confesses that she wrote the report henriksemailskriv
What was wrong with Hanna? fer_sm90
How did Hanna not get pregnant? pescalan
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