MovieHook Rating... C
Kate Winslet finally found the formula to cure her Golden Globe woes. Walking around naked on screen for half an hour, and refusing to put on makeup. I don't know why it worked, but somehow it did.
The real winner from The Reader is 18 year old David Cross, who was picked to pleasure Kate Winslet seven or eight times in the film. He also caused filming to stall, so he could become of legal age. Cross plays the 16 year old Michael Berg, who stumbles upon Hanna Schmitz's (Winslet) apartment one day while he was ill and disoriented. Hanna cleans up his puke and nurses him back to health. He is sent home, wondering if he will ever see Hanna again.
Berg's mother is so grateful, she sends him back over to Hanna's apartment with flowers. Their second meeting is more awkward than the first, the sexual tension in the room is surprisingly heated considering Hanna is more than double his age. Berg once again can't find any words to say, and they leave both feeling awkward.
Berg now seems obsessed with her, he creeps around staring at her where she cannot see, like a obsessive stalker. After days of this he returns to her apartment, and she tells him to go down to the basement and fill two buckets with coal. When he returns his clothes are smeared with in black. Hanna believes it would be disrespectful for him to go home under these circumstances, so she runs him an innocent bath, or maybe not so innocent. (I feel like I'm writing about a cheap porno). When his bath is finished he climbs out of the tub, to Hanna holding a towel in her birthday suit. They proceed to do something that is most certainly illegal, but the real crime is we have to watch it half a dozen times.
Berg comes to Hanna's apartment from school everyday, along with a bag full of books he is reading. Seeing this Hanna asks him to read to her everyday, which makes their relationship more unusual. A high school kid reading to a middle aged woman. It becomes absolutely clear that Hanna is illiterate, but Berg is blind to this.
As three months is along time to spend everyday with one person, Berg begins to notice girls his age. But he cannot soy his wild oats when he is spending every waking second at Hanna's, but right around this time Hanna is offered a new job. Without telling the kid, as she calls him, she packs up and leaves. Berg once again comes, but is met by an empty apartment. He waits for her, but she never returns.
By this time in the movie you still have not been given any background information on these characters, and wonder what could possibly be next after a grim hour of Winslet earning a one way ticket to prison. But through this affair, an older man who appears to be a grown up version of Berg (Ralph Fiennes) is shown in the future. He is going through a divorce, and trying to bond with his daughter. Not enough is revealed to really where that is going on, but you are left with questions that will be explained later.
We once again flash back to a heavy eyed chain smoking Berg now in law school. Berg is having trouble finding pleasure in anything in college, he doesn't participate in parties, and also wont go for a girl who has been flirting with him for weeks. But when his law class visits a trial where 6 women are convicted for a conspiracy in which 300 Jews were killed, he is thrown a curve ball. One of the women convicted in Hanna Smitz. Berg can hardly watch as his former love is in line for an almost guaranteed jail sentence. We also wait to see what the scenes with the middle aged Berg will bring. Along with the question, will he ever talk to Hanna again?
My biggest problem this movie, is during one of the final scenes in the trial. Hanna is accused by the other conspirators to have led the slaughter of the Jews, and to have signed the official document giving them permission to perform the murders. But you know this is false because she can not read or write, but when the judge asks for a handwriting sample to compare to the file, she admits to signing the document. You know why she did this, so they wouldn't find out she was illiterate. She takes LIFE IN PRISON just because she is a little self-conscious. What the crap, this is insane, nobody cares if you can't read. I don't think anybody would make that trade, but that's the story I guess, see it if you want to.
On a better note, if you have a crush on Kate Winslet, you may like this movie, as she is without clothes for a greater part of the movie. She looks pretty authentic as an women on the back stretch of her life, especially after doing 7 hours of makeup everyday to look so old. Fiennes does a great job playing the older Berg, he captures the emotion of everything that was going on so well. Kross needs some work, he is young, but I didn't understand his character at all. Every time I saw him, he had a goofy expression, it looked like he had the stomach flew the entire movie.
The Reader is not suitable for children, and has an old naked lady with no makeup on basically for the first 45 minutes, so beware.