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The Reader (2008)



Average Rating: 6.4/10
Reviews Counted: 193
Fresh: 118 | Rotten: 75

Despite Kate Winslet's superb portrayal, The Reader suggests an emotionally distant, Oscar-baiting historical drama.


Average Rating: 5.9/10
Critic Reviews: 43
Fresh: 23 | Rotten: 20

Despite Kate Winslet's superb portrayal, The Reader suggests an emotionally distant, Oscar-baiting historical drama.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 205,193

My Rating

Movie Info

Kate Winslet and Ralph Fiennes star in The Hours director Stephen Daldry's haunting period drama concerning the relationship between a 15-year-old German boy and a mysterious woman twice his age, and the way that it grows doubly complex when the man reencounters the woman years later and discovers a shocking truth about her past. Based on author Bernhard Schlink's best-selling novel of the same name, the film opens on the character of Michael Berg (Ralph Fiennes) in middle age -- cold, remote,


Drama, Romance

David Hare

Apr 14, 2009


The Weinstein Co./MGM - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (194) | Top Critics (43) | Fresh (118) | Rotten (75) | DVD (8)

Stephen Daldry's film is sensitively realized and dramatically absorbing, but comes across as an essentially cerebral experience without gut impact.

July 6, 2010 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

If Winslet carries the complex psychological intrigue of the film on her shoulders, David Kross carries the heart of it on his.

April 8, 2009 Full Review Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Its issues are infinite and moveable. It's a bold and challenging work.

January 5, 2009 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The trial's outcome leads us into a third act that continues to give renewed, rending meaning to the movie's title.

December 30, 2008 Full Review Source: Denver Post
Denver Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The Reader is a bold and provocative film and one of the most exquisite of 2008.

December 30, 2008 Full Review Source: Dallas Morning News
Dallas Morning News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Relies too much on coincidence and, in an even more puzzling turn, seems to suggest that illiteracy might be a valid excuse for the worst of human behavior.

December 29, 2008 Full Review Source: Miami Herald | Comments (2)
Miami Herald
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The film's exploration of the Holocaust's fallout on subsequent generations is harrowing.

September 29, 2012 Full Review Source: The Aristocrat
The Aristocrat

A holocaust movie with a deep, twisting dive into a dense tangle of thorny moral, ethical, situational and emotional issues.

September 28, 2011 Full Review Source: American Profile
American Profile

Winslet fashions Hanna as the most banal and mundane of evildoers.

August 16, 2011 Full Review Source: East Bay Express
East Bay Express

A film that will haunt you for months with its fleeting and subtle examinations on morality, love and guilt.

March 24, 2011 Full Review Source: What Culture
What Culture

Manipulative and flawed, but interesting and occasionally moving.

October 20, 2010 Full Review Source: IGN DVD

A decades-spanning drama that dives into the slippery human nature of lust, manipulation, retribution and doubt. "The Reader" is a phenomenally tragic story of people eternally connected, never knowing whether it's by true love or unshakable regret.

September 17, 2010 Full Review Source:

A British movie of a well-reviewed German novel about issues both moral and bookish.

July 6, 2010 Full Review Source:

There's something missing from screenwriter David Hare's adaptation of Bernhard Schlink's Oprah selection, The Reader.

July 6, 2010 Full Review Source: San Diego Metropolitan
San Diego Metropolitan

ovaj film mo%u017Ee nakon obavljene misije oti%u0107i u zaslu%u017Eeni zaborav

December 14, 2009 Full Review Source: Draxblog Movie Reviews

Daldry's directorial restraint and power perfectly serves David Hare's impressive screenplay and delivers a memorable movie-going experience.

September 8, 2009 Full Review Source:


August 26, 2009 Full Review Source: CinePassion

En el terreno en que la película triunfa sobre todo es en el de la reflexión, que se impone posteriormente al mero recuerdo de la anécdota que narra.

July 9, 2009 Full Review Source: Uruguay Total
Uruguay Total

I have no doubt that the novel makes this movie seem but a glissando of a complex series of emotional notes, but I can say that I was torn up every which way by the end of it.

May 31, 2009 Full Review Source: Cinerina

The film lingers more on Winslet's nudity than on the nature of guilt, and it offers no reason to care for the lumpen criminal or the callow lover.

April 23, 2009 Full Review Source: Boston Phoenix
Boston Phoenix

Winslet creates a flawed and fascinating villain.

March 24, 2009 Full Review Source:

An intriguing journey: love story without love, war story without war, and ultimately a meditation upon our inability to normalise an understanding of what life would have been like for those living in Nazi Germany.

March 21, 2009 Full Review Source: Screenwize

This movie invites you to unlock the mystery. Would you be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to protect a secret?

March 21, 2009 Full Review Source: Entertainment Spectrum
Entertainment Spectrum

It is a majestically sombre, always gripping film, told with immense restraint and no hint of sensationalism.

February 27, 2009 Full Review Source: The Australian
The Australian

Audience Reviews for The Reader

A teenage boy has an illicit affair with an older woman in post war Berlin and years later finds her on trial as an Auschwitz prison guard. The Reader is a very worthy examination of German post war guilt and the resulting gulf between the following generations which no doubt resulted in the creation of the Baader-Meinhof gang. The most interesting part of the film is actually the moral debate between the law students and their tutor and it does make some interesting points about the consequences of culpability through inaction, but the structure of the film as seen through the eyes of an infatuated young boy and his older, wiser self doesn't really work. It has that kind of sterile tastefulness that "Oscar nominated" films always have and it completely lacked any emotional involvement with the characters. The performances are all strong, but I couldn't help the feeling that nearly every member of the cast were either too young or too old for their parts and it did not help that David Kross bears absolutely no resemblance to Ralph Fiennes whatsoever, which combines with a rather implausible plot development on which the entire story hinges to make the whole thing rather unconvincing. Kudos to Kate Winslet for her measured and thoughtful performance, but otherwise The Reader left me rather cold.
July 31, 2012
xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

I knew nothing about The Reader before watching and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by it. It's a very complex story when it comes to the emotional turmoil and uncomfortable human issues involved but it is told so simply it is absolutely captivating. This is also credit to the actors who were deservedly praised on its release. The young David Kross was probably the most impressive performance in my mind. He was the glue of the film, his performance had to be more physical than Winslet's and Fiennes's, two brilliant actors who know that sometimes less is more and one expression can say a thousand words - something they both do brilliantly in this film. Three films down, Stephen Daldry is fast becoming a director you can rely on and I look forward to seeing what he does next.
January 16, 2012

Super Reviewer

After long thought and decision, I have finally come to write my review on The Reader. Originally, I was about to give this film a 70% or an 80%, but when I thought about the film, something about the film was nudging me to give this film a lower rating. Later, after I thought over the film, I knew what that was. You'll see what that is as you read the review. But for right now, I will have to tell you how great this film is.
The Reader is based in post-World War two, with a major part of the film being set in flashbacks during pre-World War two. Michael Berg (Ralph Fiennes), is a lawyer working in Berlin. He remembers flashbacks about his teen-hood, and a certain woman, Hanna Schmitz (Kate Winslet). He remembers how he slept with her, how she became his love, and how they left each other without ever saying good-bye. Then, a few years later, he sees her again at a war-crime trial, in which she is the defendant. as the trial goes on, Michael realizes he knows something that could save Hanna Schmitz life from being imprisoned, but only one problem; Hanna doesn't want anyone to know about this. So, the story goes on (although this is 3/4ths of it), with flashbacks and memories from the present Michael Berg, and the final conclusion of it all when Michael meets Hanna one last time.
Now, this romance-drama was nominated for five Academy Awards, winning one out of the five. Its story was nothing but original, with great passes between time, and an amazing screenplay to go with. I adore this film for its unexpectedness. Most romance films are predictable, but this one had some scenes where you didn't expect what happened to happen. I actually want to read the book that this film was based on, for that's how much I liked the story. But there is only one problem with it; they overly used sex in the film. We got the picture after the first 30 minutes that Michael Berg and Hanna Schmitz made love, but no, the directors just kept on going with the sex. It was quite erotic and unnecessary. I just hope the book doesn't have as much sex as the film did.
Next, what else made the film spectacular was Kate Winslet's performace as Hanna Schmitz. She was the person that actually gave this film a win at the Oscars. After seeing a lot of her films, I realized she never seemed to ignore those movies that get nominated or win Best Picture at the Oscars. And that's really what she deserves. David Cross also had a nice performance, but I didn't see much of Ralph Fiennes, so I cant's say anything about him. Otherwise, the acting was superb.
I also liked the Stephen Daldry's directing. He added a special flare to the film which I liked. The cinematography was also nice, considering that not ALL of the good camera shots were focused on the sex scenes.
Now, here is where I tell you the big con of this film which made it lose 10%, probably 20% of this film's ratings. As I watched the film, I realized something toward close to the end of the movie. After all the romance, drama, and joy in the film, I thought just one thing; that this was some sort of illiterate awareness film. Not that I have anything wrong with supporting literacy, but I mean, after all of the brilliance of this film, you come across one scene which changes the whole perspective of the film. What I thought to be the best romance of 2008 became a campaign to support people who can't read. I don't like those kinds of things popping up in my film, as I believe many others do not as well.
The film was also quite slow at parts, making it a bit boring to watch. It also had unnecessary scenes, just wasting time to, as to what I believe is to show off the score. The score, was actually, indeed brilliant (for I believe it deserved an Oscar nomination), but it kind of got annoying at times when it was the only thing entertaining you during the film. At one point I was wishing that the score for this film would just shut-the-heck-up, even though I loved it.
Other than the cons within it, this film is one to remember. It's kind, original, sad, happy, and mostly, moving. I don't plan on watching it soon again, but I can tell you, I'm going to give this roller coaster (although the most appropriate term would be "ferris wheel") another ride.

If you are still confused as to why I gave this film the rating it got, please visit this link below:
July 3, 2011
shahmeer h.
shahmeer hashmat

Super Reviewer

Bernhard Schlink's erotic and economical novel comes to life on the screen, and overall, it's well done. The book is so compactly written, I had to ask myself, how can they get two hours of film out of it? The short answer: music. Leaving aside Kate Winslet's (deserving) Oscar-winning performance for a second, the score of the film carried it through the gaps in time and the silences between the characters keeping secrets from each other. I thought the casting for Michael was a bit off - too old for the young lead, too young to be a college student later - and it was a bit off-putting that the climax came earlier in the film (about halfway) than in the book (three-quarters). But in the end, this isn't about comparing the book to the movie. The film stands well on its own, and though it will seem a little slow to those who have not read the book, the score and the acting will leave you much more happy than not.
June 27, 2011

Super Reviewer

    1. Michael Berg: I can't live without you. The thought of leaving you kills me. Do you love me?
    – Submitted by Andrea M (8 months ago)
    1. Professor Rohl: If people like you don't learn from what happened to people like me, then what the hell is the point of anything?
    – Submitted by Kong K (13 months ago)
    1. Hanna Schmitz: It doesn't matter what I feel. It doesn't matter what I think. The dead are still dead.
    – Submitted by Marilena B (18 months ago)
    1. Hanna Schmitz: You don't have the power to upset me. You don't matter enough to upset me.
    – Submitted by Mich M (23 months ago)
    1. Michael Berg: Only one thing can make a soul complete and that thing is love.
    – Submitted by Lester M (2 years ago)
    1. Hanna Schmitz: It doesn't matter what I feel. It doesn't matter what I think. The dead are still dead.
    – Submitted by Chris P (2 years ago)
View all quotes (7)

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Foreign Titles

  • Der Vorleser (DE)
  • El lector (ES)
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