Review/Oscar Road, Part 5: The Reader

It is surprising how some good film making values can make a deeply flawed and weak story appear engrossing and even touching at times. That is the power of the medium called film. Stephen Daldry does it with 'The Reader'. Last time round, with 'Frost/Nixon' I was complaining how Ron Howard did not make full use of it to tell us an already powerful story. In this movie it is exactly the opposite. Daldry, who had previously directed The Hours and Billy Elliot, is telling a story of a young man who is in love with an older woman who he has had an affair with. Later it turns out to that she was one of the guard who was stationed at Auschwitz.
I need to address the story first which is such a drawback full of loopholes and weak situations. The movie is made after a novel of the same name which was written in 1995 by a German Law professor Bernhard Schlink . A large focus of it is the German guilt for what happened to the Jews especially at the concentration camps. Also how a young man is torn between truth and justice during wat seems to be one of the Nuremberg trials. and how he deals with his decision later. The motive of the story seems good but the plot is flawed with the characters making numerous foolish and stupid decisions and many such things.

Kate Winslet's performance is outstanding and she brilliantly essays a complex role of a woman who has to live inspire of her gory past and accept it for what it is. She has a large role and story revolves around her involvement in the man's life. I wonder why she was nominated(and won) for the golden globes as best supporting actress. David Kross and Ralph Fiennes play the young and old Michael Berg, the protagonist of the story who is a lonely and cut off from the rest of the world. Its a simple role for Fiennes and Kross does a good job too. I liked the character of the Law professor who raises some intriguing questions.

The movie is beautifully made and the score evokes the right kind of emotions and leaves a lot of open ended questions regarding what should have been done and the ethics of the Nazi trials. It is a good watch inspite of all the flaws but not really some thing that has oscar credentials even on a lean year like this. It is a heavy drama stretched across time and except for decent filmmaking it hasnt much going for it. Watch it for Winslet's strong acting if you have to.

Rating: 7/10

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