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THE READER, 2008
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THE READER MOVIE POSTER
THE READER
Movie Review

Directed by Stephen Daldry
Starring: David Kross, Ralph Fiennes, Kate Winslet
Review by Matthew Toffolo



SYNOPSIS:

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

REVIEW:

The Reader is a film that touched me hard inside of my emotional core. There are a lot of things that were touched in this film that I could relate with. And it's also a very important story to tell. Life is very gray and many times we get caught inside of the storm that is happening in our present world. Of course in retrospect, you would change many things, but what's a person to do. The past is the past.

The story begins with a May/December romance between 15 year old Michael Berg and 30 something Hanna Schmitz. They connect because they feel isolated with the rest of the world and are lonely people.

Personally, my first relationship with a woman was someone who was also much older than myself. It's a strange mix because this person is your partner and lover but also your mentor. You are inexperienced in the sexual world and they begin to teach you how to make love. Then you figure out that they are with you for almost the same reason as you have something to teach and show them that they lack themselves.

In The Reader, Michael reads to Hanna (hence the title of the film) the many great pieces of literature because Hannah is illiterate and has a strong thirst for stories. Imagine that feeling of entrapment where there is something you love so much but can't fully be a part of.

Michael's connection with Hanna will last a lifetime because she was the first person to make him feel that way we all feel when we obsess and/or fall in love with someone. It's also a detriment because having an older relationship with someone pushes you to grow up a lot faster than you probably should. Micheal begins to avoid any relationship with his peers as I also did as well in my own past. So as you gain a lot, you lose a lost too.

Then they move onward as will always happen. Skip to years ahead and Michael comes across Hannah in the hardest possible way.

My grandfather was in the Italian army during World War II and was so high up in the ranks, that it appears that he was close to the infamous Mussolini. After the war when Italy was in complete emotional and physical disarray, my grandfather moved his family (and my father) to Canada to reinvent himself and the Toffolo name.

He would never speak of his time during WWII but you can always tell in his eyes that he had a lot of scars and perhaps did some very bad things.

Hannah Schmitz was hired to be a guard during the war and was asked to do a lot of very bad things. But this was her job as she didn't have many prospects being a young woman who couldn't read. And that's the story of The Reader. A must see film that I think is a top 10 movie of 2008

Kate Winslet is a remarkable actor. Perhaps the best actor working today. She loses herself in every single role and becomes the character she plays.

Kate Winslet is a woman who can evoke all of the proper emotions needed for each role she performs. Hanna Schmitz is a very difficult role to play because you must like her but also be leery of her at the same time. Too opposite feelings that must be balanced. Only a select few actors in the world can pull off a role like this.

Ralph Fiennes did what Tom Hanks did in Forrest Gump. They shot the earlier scenes first and then Fiennes went to the rushes to observe the younger version of Michael Berg and stole all of the subleties of the actor playing him. So then the transition in the film from the younger Micheal to the older Micheal was practically seamless.

The Reader is a perfectly executed film. A must see! And I hope it gets its fair shake when it comes to handing out awards.

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