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The Reader (2008)

June 29, 2009

VERDICT:
6/10 Bare-assed Nazis

Deserved the Best Actress Oscar, really didn’t deserve the Best Picture Nomination. Hard to believe this got picked over The Dark Knight. Good one, Academy.

The Reader is about a 16-year-old German kid who has an illicit, Summer-long affair with a Nazi train conductor during World War II. They have lots of sex, he reads many a book aloud to her, and she really digs it. Summer ends, fast-forward to when the kid is in law school and to his surprise finds that he’s now sitting in on his former lover’s Nuremberg trials for her role as a guard at Auschwitz.

Oh, to be young and in love.

The real selling point of The Reader is obviously Kate Winslet. She got nominated for absolutely anything at every single award show this year for her role here as the Nazi seductress. And while I still haven’t seen her other award-winning performance in Revolutionary Road, the Oscar was well-earned for her turn in this movie. I even think she won a Nobel Peace Prize for it…or a Grammy. Same difference.

I’m not sure why she won the Best Actress Oscar because she’s not the main character, but she definitely is the most interesting part of the movie regardless. Her character is very manipulative and Winslet’s performance just adds to that, making it strangely difficult to feel bad for this troubled Nazi who may or may not have been responsible for killing a lot of Jewish people.

Lots of real emotion, it’s a tough character to play considering her circumstances, and Kate makes it all feel real. She’s no joke and she’s come a long way from the days of Jack and Rose.

And hats off to you, Kate, you have officially beaten out Marisa Tomei for the most frequently naked, Oscar-nominated actress of all time. Something to be proud of, I guess. Won’t catch me showing my goods to everyone on Earth anytime soon, but if that’s your thing, then keep on fighting the good fight.

But aside from Kate and a good story, the rest of the movie is very mediocre. The pacing is really strange and moves along at a way-too-fast pace, like someone sped up the film reel and cut off ten seconds from the start and end of each scene. It actually just made me want to read the book afterwards because it felt like the director, Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliot & The Hours – good movies), rushed like crazy through the plot and gave the audience a Sparknotes version of the story he was supposed to tell.

As a result, it’s difficult to connect with the characters, there isn’t enough character development, and I didn’t care about any of them or what was happening to them as much as I probably should have. It’s not often where a movie ends and I think, “That should have been an extra 20 to 30 minutes longer,” but this is one of those rare instances.

My good buddy Fred says the book is much better, so I’m going to suggest you go with Fred on this one and hit up your local library. The Reader is worth seeing for Kate, but you’re getting shortchanged with a good story told poorly.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Miss Topanga permalink
    May 30, 2010 12:11 pm

    i just watched this and wanted to check what you thought of it.

    i agree with most of what you say, and i had to laugh very hard at the marisa tomei/nakedness comment. cause when i watched it, the thought also crossed my mind that kate really likes to take her clothes off.

  2. Miss Topanga permalink
    May 30, 2010 12:12 pm

    however, i think everyone did a great job, acting-wise, not only kate…

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