Monday, February 23, 2009

The Reader (My attempt at movie reviewing)

The Reader is the story of a woman, Hanna Schmitz, a boy, Michael Berg, their relationship and her shame. Hanna's shame, however does not come from her illicit relationship with a boy young enough to be her son, or the Nazi war crimes she is accused of committing. You'll have to see the movie to find out. If I say more, it would spoil the plot and I don't want to be a spoiler.

The movie is stark and shot in a way that the images are as raw as the emotional content. It accurately portrays the time periods through which the story takes place. I found it very well done. Kate Winslet deserved the Oscar she won last night as it was her best work. Ralph Fiennes gave a fine performance as the middle-aged Michael Berg as did David Kross, who played Berg as a young man. Flashbacks and flash-forwards are used as glue to keep the story moving with understanding.

Much has been said about the nudity and sexuality portrayed in this film. In this instance it truly deepened the character study and advanced the plot. It shows a middle aged woman existing alone with only her work and household tasks to occupy her. Then, there's the angst ridden teenage boy who feels demeaned by his father and coddled by his mother. When they get together it is awkward and uncomfortable for both of them (and we who are watching). Yet upon subsequent meetings, the unlikely couple move out of their respective emotional ruts and form a tenuous tender albeit short relationship. The sex, therefore is the catalyst for them overcoming their own personal inertia. It was used well and did not feel gratuitous.

This movie is chock full of emotional surprises and uncertainties. It's definitely a ride worthy of your time. I suggest that you choose a character to plug yourself into while watching this film. Why? Because to experience the film in an empathic way through a main character is much more meaningful than watching as a detached observer. (Except for comedies, I try to do this with every movie I watch.)

If you want a feel-good movie, this is not the one to go see. It does however cause the viewer to consider the source of shame in their own life. Any movie that can propell me into meaningful introspection is worth it.

The Reader <=== Click to go to the IMDB page for the movie.