The Reader (2008)

<strong class="MovieTitle">The Reader</strong> (2008)

(In theaters, February 2009) Imagine, for a moment, hearing of a movie featuring “forbidden love between a young man and an older woman… nazis… women in prison”. Promising, right? Alas, all of this is ruined by the film’s dreaded “Oscar-worthy drama” pedigree, which makes fifteen minutes’ worth of plot turned into a two-hour film feel like most of a lifetime. Even Kate Winslet’s frequent nudity isn’t much of a selling point given how frequently she disrobes on-screen. If you have the patience to sit still through dull melodrama, there are a few interesting moments in The Reader: The filmmakers are good at portraying illicit passion, relatively competent at examining collective guilt and not too bad in portraying very flawed characters stuck in their decisions. But none of this actually translates into anything more than shameless pleas for Oscar nominations and superficial respectability. The moment you look closer at the plot, it falls apart: The film’s big dramatic moment (indeed, its title) depends on a secret that would never exist given the character’s biography. It all amounts to an exploitation film, but not the good kind of exploitation film that could have been titled Hannah, She-Wolf Of The SS. More of a feel-good-to-feel-bad formula drama to exploit the Holocaust once more, made without energy, wit or care for the audience’s time.

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