Starring: Kate Winslet, Ralph Fiennes, David Kross, Jeanette Hain

Director: Stephen Daldry

Writers: David Haire, Bernard Schlink

Cinematography: Roger Deakins, Chris Menges

Original Score: Nico Mulhy

Running Time: 124 mins.

In one episode of Ricky Gervais satirical comedy show Extras, Kate Winslet plays herself playing a Nun on the run from Nazi’s, seeking an Oscar in the only way she says it is guaranteed in the movie biz. Well she certainly seemed to take her own advice except it is she who is the Nazi, though regardless of which side of the fence her character sits she can now sit at home polishing her own Oscar rather than husband Sam Mendes.

However let’s get one thing straightened out from the off, there has been much too-ing and fro-ing as to what film Winslet would be nominated for and sadly it’s the weaker of the two which has one out, for Revolutionary Road, whilst very different. is by far the superior film on every level. Lest I get carried away for this is not comparison time…what of The Reader as based on it’s own merits, despite it’s unfavourably comparable downfalls.

The best way to describe an adaptation such as this is solid, never threatening to do anything we haven’t seen before, plodding through its double stranded story with purpose yet never quite letting us know where it’s going until we least expect. Winslet’s Hanna Schmitz is, as the awards buzz would suggest, very good, but she is matched by the unsung hero of David Kross (Michael) who plays the object of Winslets (it must be said, paedophilic, desires), growing into a young man studying Law he is ever haunted by the one summer he first discovered true love, never fully recovering from the experience.

As the older Michael recounting his past Ralph Fiennes delivers yet another fine performance and one that compliments Kross wonderfully, to believe that these two actors are one in the same person is a feat often not achieved in much superior tales. It is telling that it is only in Fiennes though any real emotion is prized from the audience, with us somewhat too far detached from Winslet to fully invest in her eventual, self induced?, plight. 

Too say much more would be too rob the story of it’s surprising and often shocking turn’s of events, however, like the similar Atonement, which took a novel essentially about the power of the written word and turn it into quite the opposite has the effect of failing to put across the real point and thrust of ideas behind novels, some things it seems must be read to truly be appreciated.

Meaning that come the final third when we are gripped by the story there is no emotional heft, and considering the subject matter, and the fates of the two main charcaters we should be sobbing into out hankies instead I was merley left thinking that everything that had come before, despite being well told and strung together it just didn’t have that spark enabling you to fully invest in the characters. Something which I feel the book would have no trouble in doing, lost in translation, maybe.


Not the masterpiece all the awards attention would suggest, simply a solid adaptation of a fine novel.  But oddly, considering the subject matter, The Reader is lacking in any real emotional pull, meaning when there should be a tear in your eye, you’re simply admiring the performances.