Adam is moved by The Reader
Stephen Daldry’s powerful film The Reader had quite a difficult time finding its way to the screen. Leading ladies (Nicole Kidman) , Cinematographers (Roger Deakins) and producers (Scott Rudin) were swapped during production and two of the film’s producers died before the film’s release (two of cinema’s greats: Sydney Pollack and Anthony Minghella). When the film was released it received backlash for being nominated for an Oscar over Wall-E and The Dark Knight, critics accussing it of being ‘Holocaust Oscar-bait’.
Despite all this controversy, The Reader is an emotional powerhouse. The film centres on an affair between a young German boy, Michael (a great David Kross), and a mucholder tram conductor, Hanna, (an Oscar winning performance by Kate Winslet) who is holding onto a painful past. The two of them share a mutually beneficial relationship; Michael reads stories to Hannah and fills her life with naive romance and Hannah teaches Michael in the ways of physical intimacy. Though their romance is short lived, it has a profound on Michael and he carries it all through his life. Almost a decade later, Hannah re-enters the life of Michael (who is now a law student) when she is put on trial for war crimes.
The Reader tackles the Holocaust in a purely human way. There are no manipulative flashbacks of cold, starving Jews; the horrors are told through the character’s faces and dialogue. The film’s exploration of the Holocaust’s fallout on subsequent generations is harrowing.
Kate Winslet proves again that she is an actress for the ages, she inhabits the role of Hannah with selfless abandon. Some may question the validity of her academy win (many think that it is a consolation Oscar, one given in recognition of a career, not a single performance), but to hell with them, she is truly great here. Ralph Fiennes and David Kross both bring intelligence and genuine feeling to their interpretations of the character ‘Michael’. This is a film that will resonate long after you have seen it.