If there’s any doubt that Kate Winslet is the best young actress in the business, The Reader should end it once and for ail. In this Stephen Doldry adaptation of the 1995 novel, she even manages to play a Nazi pedophile and come off as empathetic…
Hanna Schmitz (Winslet) is a tram conductor in 1958 Germany when she comes across a teen named Michael Berg (played by German actor David Kross).
She seduces the kid and makes him read her classic literature before they have sex. This goes on for one summer until Schmitz disappears after a promotion.
Eight years later, Michael (still Kross) is a budding lawyer who is studying the trial of several Nazi SS guards, and to his surprise, his lost love is one of those on trial.
It is here that the secret of Schmitz unfolds: Why did she disappear?
Why did she make Michael read to her? Rest assured, the secret is an important plot point and her weird love of literature as kinky foreplay is explained.
Then, the story moves to 1995 where a chain-smoking, grown up Michael (Ralph Fiennes) continues to follow up on Schmitz’s secret…
Strong as Winslet is, the film is a bit slow and convoluted, Her character has done some very bad things and even though she never expresses remorse verbally, one feels the tragic nature of her character. Enjoy her performance and have patience with the film.