The Reader Reviews
Everything is admirable, worthy, and muffled in a blanket of Britishness in this well-bred production, which reunites director Stephen Daldry with screenwriter David Hare six years after The Hours.
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.
After a sensuous introductory act, The Reader descends into a series of dismaying contradictions regarding the moral toxins of the Holocaust -- which still pollute postwar Germany.
Provocatively intentioned, The Reader is a movie worth seeing -- the kind of film you'll think about for days afterward. But when all is said and done, you're likely to wonder why the impact wasn't greater still.
The Reader remains schematic, and ultimately reductive. It really is about literacy, which proves to be a dismayingly small answer to the enormous questions posed by Hanna's dark past.
The whole film, in fact, with its loping pace and plaintive score, feels like a woefully polite, not to say British, take on a foreign horror; was there really no one, from the fierce new wave of German filmmakers, prepared to dramatize the Schlink?
Told, coolly...the novel was hugely popular as well as controversial worldwide and an Oprah's Book Club selection besides. I'm afraid it needed a different set of interpreters to make any emotional sense of it onscreen.
Surrounding the Holocaust morality play is another story that's more modestly scaled and, in this age of unashamed romance between older women and younger men, more contemporary.
With this film Daldry proves himself the screen's reigning master at showing passion thwarted or repressed, this time to a propulsive Philip Glass-lite score from Nico Muhly.
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.
Winslet is outstanding, particularly given that Hanna is such an unsympathetic character. We never quite feel sympathy toward her, and it's testament to Winslet's skill and confidence that she never really asks us to.