The Reader

The Weinstein Company Released 2009


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Movie Summary

Stephen Daldry
The Reader is a hauntingly beautiful story of love, loss, secrets and betrayal. The story begins in post-WWII Germany with a chance meeting between Michael Berg (Ralph Fiennes) and Hanna Schmitz (Kate Winslet). The teenaged Michael, ill with scarlet fever, accepts help from Hanna, a thirty-six year old woman he doesn't know. After Michael recovers, he and Hanna form an immediate connection, embarking on a secretive affair. Hanna insists Michael read to her every time they meet, and only after her wishes are fulfilled will she make love with him. Despite the passion they share, Hanna one day disappears and the heartbroken Michael must continue without her. Flash forward eight years, and law student Michael is attending the war crimes trial of six female guards from Nazi concentration camps. Much to his horror, Michael discovers Hanna is one of the prisoners on trial. Stunned and shaken to his core, Michael must grapple with his memories of Hanna and their torrid affair and the testimony he hears in the courtroom depicting Hanna as a monster. Realizing he is the only one who can save his former lover from a life in prison, Michael is faced with a dramatic choice. Will he reveal his secret affair with the prisoner and save the woman he once loved?moreless


Metacritic Score

  • 70

    Los Angeles Times Kenneth Turan

    It is only, frankly, the strength of Winslet's performance that rises above conventional surroundings and makes The Reader the experience it should be.

  • 60

    The New York Times Manohla Dargis

    The film is neither about the Holocaust nor about those Germans who grappled with its legacy: it's about making the audience feel good about a historical catastrophe that grows fai...

  • 50

    Variety Todd McCarthy

    Stephen Daldry's film is sensitively realized and dramatically absorbing, but comes across as an essentially cerebral experience without gut impact.

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Love & Romance