Kate Winslet won big at 2009’s Golden Globes and Academy Awards for The Reader. She was on fire, but Winslet and DiCaprio’s mutual admiration ass-kissing club got to me with the: “he’s the best actor of his generation/she’s the best actress of her generation.” I opted *not* to see The Reader, despite all the hubbub.
I’d read the book years ago and recalled feeling lackluster. When Michelle brought the movie to Brian’s, I wasn’t chomping at the bit to see it. Once we started watching it, however, I was there (fast and furious-like) in pre-WWII Germany.
(Spoiler Alert: Read at Your Own Risk!)
German Hanna Schmitz (Kate Winslet) works as an attendant on the trolley transportation. Teenager Michael Berg (David Kross) meets much older woman Hanna and they begin a clandestine sexual relationship lasting all summer. Part of their trysts involve Michael reading to her. He reads The Odyssey, The Lady with the Little Dog and the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. As Michael falls deeper and deeper for Hanna, he finds that Hanna can’t let her walls down; this leads to several rows. Michael is dismayed when he stops by to see her after school one day and finds she has absconded without a trace. Fast-forward nearly 10 years, Michael is in law school. His class is attending Nazi war crimes trial, when he is amazed to discover that his former lover, Hanna, is among the defendants. This re-opens the never-quite-healed wound of Hanna Schmitz. This time, Michael will learn devastating facts about his enigmatic first love.
Winslet is an acting goddess. She is Hanna Schmitz and wholly deserving of her awards. I do agree with DiCaprio’s assessment of her as one of the best actresses of her generation…I just wish he’d let us make that determination. The Reader is stellar and I will re-read the book and hope I get something different out of it this time.
Director: Stephen Daldry
Run time: 123 minutes