Reader, The

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +3

Content: -3

Kate Winslet, Ralph Fiennes, David Dross. Drama. Written by David Hare. Directed by Stephen Daldry.

FILM SYNOPSIS: A chance meeting leads a 15-year-old boy into a sexual liaison with an older woman (Kate Winslet). But one day when the boy (David Dross) shows up to further his coming-of-age lessons, she’s gone, moved out. She has disappeared without even saying goodbye. The film then follows this young man through life, (Ralph Fiennes takes over the role as he ages), revealing the affect the affaire d’amour had on him. Suddenly he discovers that she is on trial for Nazi war crimes. He’s horrified by her despicable deeds, while at the same time, he feels compassion for this woman, his adoring memory of the one-time secret relationship still intact.

PREVIEW REVIEW: Kate Winslet has given two powerful performances this year, the other being in Revolutionary Road. Surely Oscar will not overlook this fact come awards time. Completely immersing herself in the role, Ms. Winslet gives the performance of a lifetime. And once you get past the first hour, the film becomes an astute character study. We’re not to accept Winslet’s character as misunderstood, or really a good person down deep. She’s complex to say the least, but it’s the David Dross/Ralph Fiennes character we learn from. Through this character we see how a person can be affected throughout his life by the deeds or words of another.

He’s let her actions turn him mistrustful of relationships and somewhat closed off, even to his family. But something about her has also caused him to become compassionate in later life. It’s interesting storytelling. But remember I stated “once you get past the first hour”? The first hour is so explicit in its sexuality that it’s difficult to distinguish The Reader from pornography. There’s a great deal of nudity and graphic sexual activity, which I’m sure the filmmakers would argue for in order to point out the effect this relationship was having on the young man. And I’m sure most of my secular colleagues in criticism will assert that the sexual situations are done “tastefully” and “powerfully.” But I kept thinking, what if this was an older man enticing a fifteen-year-old girl? Wouldn’t viewers find that coupling exploitive if not downright icky?

DVD Alternative: Schindler’s List. True story of a war profiteer affected by the mistreatment of the Jews during the Holocaust. Besides the historical value of this piece, it presents a great example of redemption and contains one of the most spiritually uplifting endings found in the movies. Though deserving of its R-rating, it contains scenes that represent God's intervention and His power to heal relationships. Example: When Schindler apologizes to his wife and vows the adultery will never happen again, she forgives him. The touching moment takes place in a church, symbolizing a spiritual healing. That said, this is not for the kids. And beware, the content is graphic and intense. But as I say, the spiritual moments are uplifting.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
The Weinstein Company

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: None

Obscene Language: None

Profanity: None

Violence: While we do not see any violence, the deaths of prisoners in a concentration camp are discussed in a courtroom.

Sex: A great deal of sexual activity is shown in graphic detail.

Nudity: Both male and female nudity are shown throughout.

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None


Other: None

Running Time: 122 minutes
Intended Audience: Adults

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