The Reader: Movie Review

The Reader is an emotional/romantic film revolving around an erotic affair which resurfaces later into love. The film is also about the plight shared by Nazi-holocaust guards who were charged for the crimes committed by their employers (Read: Nazis). The film which got released in the year 2008 is inspired by the novel, ‘The Reader ‘written by German author Bernhard Schlink. The film is directed by Stephen Daldry who has also directed ‘The Hours ‘starring Nicole Kidman. The Reader revolves around Michael Berg , a lawyer ( Portrayed by Ralph Fiennes ) , David Kross , who plays the character of young Michael and Hanna Schmitz ( Kate Winslet ).

In the year 1958, fifteen year old Michael berg is down with Scarlet fever and accidentally meets 36 year old Hanna, who attends to him. After being cured of the illness, Michael meets Hanna again. This time the casual encounter ends up in a sexual liaison. There after Michael regularly meets Hanna who reads to her famous works of literature. When Hanna gets promoted in the company she works, she moves to another house without an appraisal, much to the surprise of Michael.
With time, Michael puts behind his past involving Hanna. Eight years later ,as a student of law , he witnesses a court-room trial where in some Nazi guards are being accused of letting 300 Jews die in a burning church . Michael after spotting Hanna among the accused, develops a keen interest in the progress of the trial. The other guards accuse Hanna of writing the report and supervising the extermination. Hanna, choosing not to disclose her shame (Read also as a secret) which upon revelation can pronounce her not guilty, admits to the false charges. Subsequently, she gets a life time imprisonment for her confession. Michael, sitting in the audience who knows the secret is stunned by the manner in which she chooses to confess rather than disclosing the dirty little secret.
In prison, Michael sends her tapes to overcome her social problem. After a period of 30 years, Hanna meets Michael. Later, one day before her release date Hanna commits suicide and leaves him a note along and a tea-tin with cash in it.
The film is about a mundane fling which transforms into tabooed love involving an older woman and her relatively young lover. It is a story about the unacknowledged affection, the held back emotions (In the later part) and the ignominy of living with a social problem. Besides, the story also addresses the contemporary issue of accusing the Nazi guards for supervising the killings of hundreds of Jews. On the contrary, they were only being dutiful and following orders of the Nazi regime .As the author of the book, Mr. Schlink writes “the pain I went through because of my love for Hanna was, in a way, the fate of my generation, a German fate.
The movie does full justice to the book, a best-seller, by breathing life into all the characters with absolute artistry .Kate Winslet who plays the role of Hanna Schmitz portrayed her character with such elegance and impossible comportment that she won an Academy award for this role. Even with folds on her skin and grey hair she exudes a personal charm which happens to soothe the audience. The movie leaves such a lasting impact on that mature movie-goer that even after it ends, he/she can’t help being lost in oblivion.

Vijay Amalakara

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