Sunday, March 29, 2009
The Reader is still playing in theaters near me. It will be released on DVD in April 2009, so I was tempted to wait and buy the DVD. It was an excellent movie, so the DVD may still end up in my collection. I was a bit surprised that the theater was mostly full for a matinee showing. It appears that this movie continues to maintain its appeal.
Going into this film, I had heard and read a lot about it. I knew some of the basic premises of the film without exposure to the details. I was also aware that Kate Winslet won the award for Best Actress in this film. Although I agree that Winslet was exceptional, I did not feel that her performance is what made this film great. All of the elements of this film come together in a complimentary nature to make the individual pieces seem greater than they really are. The depth of the dialogue and characters were especially central facets of this film.
So was The Reader a love story? It certainly was. It explored a unique life altering relationship between a teenage boy (Michael Berg, played by David Kross) and an older woman (Hanna Schmitz, played by Kate Winslet) nearly twenty years his senior. But this relationship is far from a tryst. The relationship shows signs of strain...yet there are admissions by both parties that they are in love. Although steamy and sensual, the relationship seems at the same time delicate and emotional. Prior to engaging in sexual relationships, the young lover reads to his elder. It is an act that evokes deep emotions at times.
The Reader also explores morality. The obvious moral issue in play might be the concept that a fifteen year old boy is having a relationship with a woman old enough to be his mother. The mild seduction seems to require little prodding by either lover. The relationship seems destined to evolve from the very beginning. With the introduction of Hanna's storied past, Michael is forced to confront the depth of her previous actions. To include revelations that Michael was not the first person Hanna had asked to read to her. The depth of the issues that surface create a conundrum that Michael must face, this includes knowledge that could seriously affect the outcome of Hanna's pending trial.
Michael is in law school at the time he finds himself faced with Hanna's history. She had disappeared suddenly years before, and now he had the opportunity to help her. In discussing these issues with his classmates and professor, several key issues that address the broader story become apparent. The professor talks about the gap between morality and law. Another student needles Michael and addresses the issue of selective prosecution. This convergence of legal and moral issues further complicates Michael's perception of the events he is confronted with.
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