The Reader

Posted by schnolis on January 14th, 2009 filed in Reviews

THE_READERI have seen quite a few movies in the past few weeks, and this one has gotten my brain working more immediately after than any of the others.  There’s something about this film that has me on edge, has me thinking I’m missing something, which is entirely possible.  It is a sad film in many ways, but I enjoyed it very much.  

Watching this movie after seeing Gran Torino was akin to seeing a ballet performed by a professional ballerina having just seen it performed by a robot with no knees or elbows.  Okay, fine, I’m exaggerating, but only a little.  Where Clint Eastwood repeats every significant event, presumably in case you missed in the first or second time, Stephen Daldry gives you suggestions that permit you to fill in from your own experience and draw your own conclusions.

Michael Berg (played by david Kross and Ralph Fiennes at different ages) is a young boy in post-world war two Germany. He meets an woman who shows him some kindness, and he becomes infatuated with her. Ultimately they develop a sexual relationship, which proves to be quite formative. While not a perfect relationshipo, when it ends abruptly he is distraught and affected. Years pass and he crosses paths with this woman again, this time while she is on trial for terrible war crimes in the Nazi regime. Michael’s internal conflict overwhelms him, and he battles this for the remainder of his life.

It is this conflict which ties the story together and makes it a challenging and beautiful story. While he holds an acute fondness for his first love and lover, he is simultaneously offended and disgusted at the atrocities she carried out before even they met. There is such humanity in this tale. Any one of us is capable of being on the wrong side of evil, and otherwise caring people sometimes do terrible things.

What I liked: Freedom and flexibility to come to my own conclusions about these characters. The well-handled touch of colorful ideas and expression of choices we face in society and how those choices can alter the future for everyone.

What I disliked: I little too much time-traveling. I don’t think it added much to the story and was a little distracting at first.

Rating: 10 of 10

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