The Reader (2008)

It doesn’t matter what I feel. It doesn’t matter what I think. The dead are still dead.


I went into this one thinking I had never seen this before, but once I got to the trial scenes, it felt very familiar. The Reader takes place in Germany starting in the late 1950s and follows the impact of one fateful summer on a young 15 year old. This movie spans about 35 years and tells the story of a young boy Michael, expertly played by David Kross (definitely want to see more of his work), who has an affair with a mysterious, much older woman who seems as if she’s hiding something. He falls in love with her while reading to her (amongst other things) during their brief time together until one day she up and vanishes. Michael’s life goes on until one day while in law school, he’s attending the trial of former Nazi war criminals when he sees Hanna, who is one of the Defendants. It is then that things start to become clear to Michael. The journey continues on after she is imprisoned and they form a correspondence until her death.

Those scenes between young Michael and Hanna (played by Kate Winslet who won an Oscar for her portrayal) were beautifully staged and executed. The cinematography and editing were great. German actor David Kross was great (supposedly he learned English just for this film)…naive, emotional, vulnerable with a youthful innocence. Ralph Fiennes was also good (no surprise there) as the older Michael. I really liked how this film jumped around in the timeline and kept going back and forth between the 50s, 60s and 90s. Overall, a beautifully shot, well written film about love, confronting our pasts, facing our demons, reconciling our history, forgiveness and redemption and how one generation comes to terms with the crimes of another. Currently streaming on Showtime Anytime.

What would you have done?