The Reader (2008)


This review shouldn’t contain any spoilers

The Reader is a film by Stephen Daldry written by David Hare (based on a book by Bernhard Schlink), featuring Kate Winslet, Ralph Fiennes and Bruno Ganz. It takes place in Germany and tells the story of Michael Berg, a lawyer whose summer-long affair with Hanna Schmitz takes a whole new dimension after he enters law school.

What seems to be a softcore pornographic film becomes an intriguing and disturbing take on morality, law and romance. The actors’ performance is truly striking and I didn’t think I liked Ralph Fiennes, until I saw this film. Kate Winslet’s performance as Hanna Schmitz is also quite impressive and I never thought I would feel so much empathy and be so moved by that character. The writing is brilliant and nothing’s useless, all comes into place at some point, everything has consequences.

What makes this film so disturbing is its lack of bias: no character is presented as “good” or “bad”, only human. It takes subjects that quickly become aggravating and clichéd and gives the viewer a striking look at reality.

The only thing that disappointed me was that the film is in English, spoken with a German accent, even though all the characters are German-speaking in “reality”, it’s understandable Hollywood actors don’t speak German, and forgivable, but I like the sound of German so much I minded it.