2 hours, 3 minutes
R Restricted. Under 17 Requires Accompanying Adult.
for some scenes of sexuality and nudity.
DVD Features: Deleted scenes; Adapting a Timeless Masterpiece: Making The Reader; A Conversation with David Kross & Stephen Daldry; Kate Winslet on the Art of Aging Hanna Schmitz; A New Voice: A Alook at Composer Nico Muhly; Coming to Grips With the Past" Production Designer Brigitte; Theatrical trailer.
Hanna Schmitz - Kate Winslet
Michael Berg - Ralph Fiennes
Young Michael - David Kross
Professor Rohl - Bruno Ganz
Rose & Ilana Mather - Lena Olin
|Hanna Schmitz (Kate Winslet "Titanic") works as a conductor on a streetcar in the German town of Neustadt a dozen years after the end of World War II. One day as she comes home from her job, she helps a fifteen-year-old boy Michael Berg (David Cross) who is ill by her front door, by taking him home. After a long recovery from Scarlet Fever, the teenager brings her flowers to thank her for her kindness. Before long they are in the midst of a torrid affair. It is a brief but passionate romance combining sex with her demand that he read to her, which he does with joy, from his favorite books including Homer, Twain and Chekhov. And then suddenly one day she disappears.
Eight years later the confused teenager has grown into a conflicted young man as Michael (Ralph Fiennes "The English Patient"), a law student goes with his class to observe a war crimes trial. Hanna is one of the defendants. Michael is profoundly shocked to hear her confess that she was a guard at Auschwitz. But there is a secret devulged, that only he can know, and Hannah won't admit, because of her shame. If he had spoken, it could possibly have resulted in her getting a
lighter sentence. But, he does not, torn
between protecting the woman he loved and recoiling from the horror of
her participation in Nazi attrocities; nor does he attempt to see her again for more than 20 years, although he does begin sending her tape recordings of the books he's read to her.
For the most part, the film directed by Stephen Daldry ("Billy Elliott"), is a faithful adaptation of the best selling Bernhard Schlink novel. The first half is by far its most compelling. The scenes of Michael and Hanna are the most gripping as the passionate Hanna reveals no evidence of her dark past. Speaking with a hard,
monotone, German accent, bringing a blank, haunted quality to
this isolated woman, who is on the one hand lonely and hungry for love,
on the other a willing, not entirely unrepentant participant in
genocide, the film belongs to Kate Winslet. As her character ages, she makes Hanna both heartbreaking
and pathetic as she achieves some level of remorse. She's a sure bet for an Oscar nomination. The emotional impact of the film sneaks up on you gradually but when it's over you'll know you've seen one of the best and most important films of the year.