Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Reader

Movie name: The Reader
Year of release: 2008
Director: Stephen Daldry
Stars: Kate Winslet, Ralph Fiennes, David Kross, Lena Olin, Alexandra Maria Lara, Bruno Ganz
Genre: Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 8

The Reader is the third film for theater director Stephen Daldry. Following the previously successful films that were "Billy Elliot" and "The Hours". His work is getting the stamp of high literary adaptations - this one from a book by Bernhard Schlink (and the previous from a book by Virginia Woolf). The Reader follows the story of the young Michael Berg in Berlin, in 1958 when the city is being rebuilt after the bombings of WWII. Michael befriends an older woman after she helps him to his house, when he feels ill. He starts an affair with Hannah, who likes to listen to him reading to her. When the affair is over and Michael goes to college, during one of his seminars he discovers that Hannah is being accused of being one of the Nazi guards that worked in Auschwitz (and that had the prisoners read to her). The affair is something that haunts Michael's life and his relationship with women. The film's outline sounds like a heavy melodrama with few glimpses of hope, but in the end, it's a film about the meeting of two souls, about how the decisions you make carry you through or lock you in a life that you feel miserable and detached from. The photography and soundtrack are impeccable as usual in Daldry's films, and the acting makes the film gain another dimension. Kate Winslet is fantastic, creating a complex woman, that no matter how hateful her actions, is still more than just a cardboard character. Ralph Fiennes inhabits the older Michael with a sadness and silence that is touching (is there anything this man can't do?) and the young David Kross imbues his young character with the innocence of first love. A very good film worth checking out.