Wednesday, 18 February 2009

The Reader

The Reader, directed by Stephen Daldry, set in post WWII Germany, is adapted from the best seller of the same name by Bernhard Schlink. The author was involved in the making of the movie from start to finish and insisted it be in English.

The book took 10 years to translate. The Germans have a word for it: Vergangenheitsbewtigung — more or less, “coming to terms with the past.” It’s not an easy concept to translate into English; even less so, perhaps, into the American idiom.
The Story
The melancholic Michael Berg (Ralph Finnes) reflects on his past as certain images and places trigger his memory of the summer of 1958 when he was 15 years old.
It was by chance the young Michael (David Kross) met Hannah Schmidt (Kate Winslet), a 30-something tram conducter, on the way back from school. He was feeling sick and she gave him a helping hand. It turned out to be scarlet fever which left him bedridden for months.

On recovery, he brought a bouquet of flowers to thank her but her response was cold. His attraction to her brought him back on a second visit which lead to the begining of a summer infatuation that was to have had a profound effect on the young Michael.

Apart from the intimacy, the couple had a fairly detached relationship until the reading started. From the Odyssey to Lady Chatterley's Lover, Michael read to Hannah, initially after the love-making but then she turned the tables and insisted on the reading first.

The spoiler: No, I wont be that mean to spoil it for you . . .


The Guardian, Peter Bradshaw - Friday 2 January 2009

Under the gloss of high production value, under the sheen of hardback good taste, there is something naive and glib and meretricious. It left a very strange taste in my mouth., Mike McCahill - 31 December 2008

The revelation of evil not only confounds the characters here; it numbs the film, stifles whatever wayward life it once had in it.

Rotten Tomatoes
The Reader is a thoughtful and absorbing film, which is packed with delicately-structured twists and punctuated with truly impressive performances.

A superbly crafted yet oddly unmoving film that's easier to admire than to genuinely like.

Best evidence of what a magnetic presence Kate Winslet is: When her role diminishes in the second half of The Reader, the movie disintegrates.

A slow-moving but absorbing story of sexual awakening and moral dilemmas.

At times The Reader is an interesting exploration of both the needs of man and the limits of law. But there are so many dead spots in the film after it gets rolling that the rolling too often comes to a stop.

Have a good read or viewing . . .

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