Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Reader

Stephen Daldry, 2008 (8.9*)
This is Kate Winslett's finest performance in a stellar career, and was rewarded with her first Oscar® for best actress. She plays a woman, Hannah, whose spontaneous act of kindness to a sick teenager, Micheal, leads to his first love affair. Her favorite pastime when they are alone is to have Michael read classic literary works to her. Michael's life is changed by this women old enough to be his mother, yet she remains an enigma to him.

Later, at law school, he again crosses paths with Hannah, a defendant in an important legal case relating to the Holocaust, and certain facts are now obvious to him that only he knows. The film eventually includes Michael as an adult lawyer, played by Ralph Feinnes in a small but effective part. Kate Winslett shines throughout, making us understand this complex character, even if we cannot justify certain actions taken during wartime. The original novel by Bernhard Schlink was a favorite of mine, and director Stephen Daldry has done the novel justice, creating an intelligent and restrained of a deeply drawn female character, and her effect on the development of a young lawyer.

Unfortunately both producers Anthony Minghella and later Sydney Pollack passed away during the making of this film and never saw its completed form.

[Note: definitely an R for nude sex scenes]

For Kate Winslett's other best performances, check out: Heavenly Creatures, her first (directed by Peter Jackson), Finding Neverland (her favorite film of hers), and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.


Dee June 24, 2009 at 10:02 PM  

I really wondered whether the movie would be a disappointment in light of the complex nature of the subject matter.

I just might see it.

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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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