7/17/09

The Reader (2008)

Kate Winslet (Hanna), Ralph Fiennes (older Michael), David Kross (younger Michael)

Directed by Stephen Daldry (The Hours)

IMDB Summary: Nearly a decade after his affair with an older woman came to a mysterious end, young law student Michael Berg re-encounters his former lover as she defends herself in a war-crime trial.

This was the second of three films I watched on the planes going to and from Italy. Only afterward did Keven mention that it had been edited. "What?" I asked. He said that Kate Winslet gets nekkid in it, complete with a view of her entire birthday suit, and none of that was shown. Being that my husband is reliably in the known with regard to this topic, I believe him and felt somewhat betrayed. I mean, it's not likely that I'll see the movie again. I won't seek out a few scenes just out of curiosity. And even if I did, the experience of seeing it for the first time will have been lost.

Gah. Airlines. Why bother?

Kate Winslet was as lovely as ever, if made brittle and curt by circumstances. She was very childlike, actually, in her lack of awareness, both of Michael's emotion and the larger horrors that she helped to perpetrate. The trial scene in particular demonstrated this, when she gives honest, uncoached answers that wind up doing her in.

Ralph Fiennes is aging nicely, but he's 13 years past Count Almásy. David Kross could've portrayed the character in his early 30s better. In fact, Kross was the centerpiece of this film. He was remarkable, and I hope to see more from him. He was plain yet handsome, intelligent yet vulnerable, childish and yet far more mature than anyone around him. I continued watching just for him.

Perhaps because of missing material, which may have included flashbacks to Hanna's service as a concentration camp guard, I didn't get as much emotional impact from this as I'd expected. The most touching part was when Michael began reading stories into the tape recorder. Hanna's wonder was palpable. But unfortunately, the experience of unknowingly watching a censored movie will be what sticks with me about The Reader.

And then, there's the irony of this clip from "Extras":

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