The Reader movie review: In 1958 Germany, 15-year-old Michael (David Kross) is seduced by Hanna (Kate Winslet), a mid-30s tram conductor. At first they just have sex, but then she requests that he read to her before the lovemaking. More importantly, decades after Hanna suddenly disappears, Michael (played as an adult by Ralph Fiennes) reflects on this and his eventual reunion with Hanna in 1966, when he's a law student and she stands trial for war crimes committed as a concentration camp guard.
The buzz: If a Kate Winslet movie is released in December, Oscar's probably listening. Indeed, there's plenty of hype about the actress' performance in this drama about coming of age in post-War Germany, which is based on Bernhard Schlink's popular novel and is one in a series of upcoming flicks (Defiance, Good, Valkyrie) dealing in one way or another with the Holocaust.
The verdict: The thought-provoking question of The Reader, as Michael wonders how to deal with seeing Hanna on trial for murder, is what to do with information that we can't understand. Unfortunately the poorly structured movie, despite excellent performances, says little about this dilemma other than that it's a toughie. It aims for ambiguity but just lacks detail, winding up with a character whose position is, essentially, I don't know how I feel. There's also a big to-do about illiteracy, but it's never clear what that has to do with the Holocaust. (Not to mention Hanna's questionable characterization, which neither fairly accounts for the atrocities nor addresses how a seemingly decent person could condone such monstrous actions.) Rather than an examination of what it means to discover a legacy of pain, The Reader serves merely, for a while, as a weirdly sexy depiction of statutory rape. Source: Metromix
Box Office: On December 10, 2008 The Reader had a limited release at 8 theaters and grossed $168,051 at the domestic box office in its opening weekend. The film had its wide release on January 30, 2009 and grossed $2,380,376 at the domestic box office. The movie's widest release was at 1,203 theaters on February 27, 2009, the weekend after the Oscar win for Kate Winslet. As of September 4, 2009, the film has grossed $34,194,407 at the domestic box office and $108,709,522 worldwide.