• R, 2 hr. 3 min.
  • Drama, Romance
  • Directed By:
    Stephen Daldry
    In Theaters:
    Dec 10, 2008 Wide
    On DVD:
    Apr 14, 2009
  • The Weinstein Co./MGM


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The Reader Reviews

Todd McCarthy
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

Full Review Source: Variety

July 6, 2010
Kristin Tillotson
Minneapolis Star Tribune
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If Winslet carries the complex psychological intrigue of the film on her shoulders, David Kross carries the heart of it on his.

Full Review Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune | Original Score: 3/4

April 8, 2009
Dave Calhoun
Time Out
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Its issues are infinite and moveable. It's a bold and challenging work.

Full Review Source: Time Out | Original Score: 4/6

January 5, 2009
Lisa Kennedy
Denver Post
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The trial's outcome leads us into a third act that continues to give renewed, rending meaning to the movie's title.

Full Review Source: Denver Post | Original Score: 3.5/4

December 30, 2008
Michael Granberry
Dallas Morning News
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The Reader is a bold and provocative film and one of the most exquisite of 2008.

Full Review Source: Dallas Morning News | Original Score: A

December 30, 2008
Connie Ogle
Miami Herald
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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.

Full Review Source: Miami Herald | Original Score: 2.5/4

December 29, 2008
Moira MacDonald
Seattle Times
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The Reader, based on Bernhard Schlink's novel, is a tragedy told with such precise remoteness, you feel as if you're watching it from across the room.

Full Review Source: Seattle Times | Original Score: 3/4

December 29, 2008
Ann Hornaday
Washington Post
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As undeniably tasteful as The Reader is, it's also an absorbing and finally moving account of how one man comes to terms with both history and his story.

Full Review Source: Washington Post

December 29, 2008
Cole Haddon
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The Reader is a dull slog of a movie gussied up by two Oscar-nominated actors -- Kate Winslet and Ralph Fiennes. If not for them, as well as an impressive performance by virtual newcomer David Kross, there would be nothing positive to say about it at all.

Full Review Source: Film.com | Original Score: C-

December 25, 2008
J. R. Jones
Chicago Reader
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Surrounding the Holocaust morality play is another story that's more modestly scaled and, in this age of unashamed romance between older women and younger men, more contemporary.

Full Review Source: Chicago Reader | Original Score: 3/4

December 25, 2008
Carrie Rickey
Philadelphia Inquirer
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With this film Daldry proves himself the screen's reigning master at showing passion thwarted or repressed, this time to a propulsive Philip Glass-lite score from Nico Muhly.

Full Review Source: Philadelphia Inquirer | Original Score: 3/4

December 24, 2008
Tom Long
Detroit News
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At times The Reader is an interesting exploration of both the needs of man and the limits of law. But there are so many dead spots in the film after it gets rolling that the rolling too often comes to a stop.

Full Review Source: Detroit News | Original Score: C+

December 24, 2008
Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times
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I believe the movie may be demonstrating a fact of human nature: Most people, most of the time, all over the world, choose to go along. We vote with the tribe.

Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times | Original Score: 3.5/4

December 24, 2008
Wesley Morris
Boston Globe
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After a sensuous introductory act, The Reader descends into a series of dismaying contradictions regarding the moral toxins of the Holocaust -- which still pollute postwar Germany.

Full Review Source: Boston Globe | Original Score: 2/4

December 24, 2008
Bill Goodykoontz
Arizona Republic
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Winslet is outstanding, particularly given that Hanna is such an unsympathetic character. We never quite feel sympathy toward her, and it's testament to Winslet's skill and confidence that she never really asks us to.

Full Review Source: Arizona Republic | Original Score: 3.5/5

December 24, 2008
Michael Phillips
Chicago Tribune
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Told, coolly...the novel was hugely popular as well as controversial worldwide and an Oprah's Book Club selection besides. I'm afraid it needed a different set of interpreters to make any emotional sense of it onscreen.

Full Review Source: Chicago Tribune | Original Score: 2/4

December 24, 2008
Roger Moore
Orlando Sentinel
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The Reader, distant though it can be, touches and provokes a mulling over of the Holocaust like few films on the subject in recent memory.

Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel | Original Score: 4/5

December 23, 2008
David Edelstein
New York Magazine/Vulture
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It appears that the filmmakers have taken Hannah Arendt's notion of the 'banality of evil' way too literally.

Full Review Source: New York Magazine/Vulture

December 15, 2008
Peter Rainer
Christian Science Monitor
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The movie adaptation by screenwriter David Hare and director Stephen Daldry starts out choppy and overdrawn but develops a cumulative power.

Full Review Source: Christian Science Monitor | Original Score: B

December 12, 2008
Joe Morgenstern
Wall Street Journal
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The Reader remains schematic, and ultimately reductive. It really is about literacy, which proves to be a dismayingly small answer to the enormous questions posed by Hanna's dark past.

Full Review Source: Wall Street Journal

December 12, 2008
Peter Howell
Toronto Star
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Like a good book with missing pages, The Reader seems stripped of essential meaning.

Full Review Source: Toronto Star | Original Score: 2.5/4

December 12, 2008
Richard Schickel
TIME Magazine
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There's something gripping about the relationship between this ill-assorted pair, and something touching about the way events beyond their control or understanding reach out to blight their lives.

Full Review Source: TIME Magazine

December 12, 2008
Mick LaSalle
San Francisco Chronicle
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A film made with high aspirations and more than the usual commitment but one that, after an arresting beginning, changes into a passive rumination.

Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle | Original Score: 2/4

December 12, 2008
Kenneth Turan
Los Angeles Times
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It is Winslet's haunting performance that gives the film what success it has.

Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times | Original Score: 3/5

December 11, 2008
Rick Groen
Globe and Mail
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Intellectually scant, emotionally scant.

Full Review Source: Globe and Mail | Original Score: 2/4

December 11, 2008
Dana Stevens
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A titillating romance that suddenly morphs into a suspense-free courtroom drama, then trickles off in a wan coda of hand-wringing.

Full Review Source: Slate

December 11, 2008
Ella Taylor
L.A. Weekly
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The Reader is low-budget, high-profile and beamed straight at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Category of High Moral Tone.

Full Review Source: L.A. Weekly

December 11, 2008
Peter Travers
Rolling Stone
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[Winslet's] fierce, unerring portrayal goes beyond acting, becoming a provocation that will keep you up nights.

| Original Score: 3/4

December 10, 2008
Rafer Guzman
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The Reader asks profound questions about guilt and redemption, but its answers are misguided and misleading.

Full Review Source: Newsday | Original Score: 2.5/4

December 10, 2008
Kyle Smith
New York Post
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'Go to the theater if you want catharsis,' says one character. I was sitting in a theater and I wanted it. It wasn't there.

Full Review Source: New York Post | Original Score: 2.5/4

December 10, 2008
Elizabeth Weitzman
New York Daily News
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Provocatively intentioned, The Reader is a movie worth seeing -- the kind of film you'll think about for days afterward. But when all is said and done, you're likely to wonder why the impact wasn't greater still.

Full Review Source: New York Daily News | Original Score: 3/5

December 10, 2008
Tasha Robinson
AV Club
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While The Reader could stand to be more lively and lived-in, it's nonetheless a supremely well-acted, gorgeously shot story that quietly dodges many of the common pitfalls of the Holocaust movie.

Full Review Source: AV Club | Original Score: A-

December 10, 2008
Ben Kenigsberg
Time Out New York
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What was a literary exercise has become a virtuoso demonstration in shouted themes and chronological scrambling.

Full Review Source: Time Out New York | Original Score: 1/6

December 10, 2008
Lisa Schwarzbaum
Entertainment Weekly
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Everything is admirable, worthy, and muffled in a blanket of Britishness in this well-bred production, which reunites director Stephen Daldry with screenwriter David Hare six years after The Hours.

Full Review Source: Entertainment Weekly | Original Score: B-

December 10, 2008
Claudia Puig
USA Today
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A slow-moving but absorbing story of sexual awakening and moral dilemmas.

Full Review Source: USA Today | Original Score: 3/4

December 9, 2008
Stephanie Zacharek
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The Reader comes off as a movie that doggedly follows some dull, preordained text. It's Winslet who dares to read between the lines.

Full Review Source: Salon.com

December 9, 2008
Christy Lemire
Associated Press
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Thankfully, Kate Winslet bares not just her body but her soul with a performance that pierces the genteel polish of this high-minded awards-season drama.

Full Review Source: Associated Press | Original Score: 3/4

December 9, 2008
James Berardinelli
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The Reader is closer to a near miss than a rousing success but, on balance, this is still worth seeing for those who enjoy complexity and moral ambiguity within the context of a melodrama.

Full Review Source: ReelViews | Original Score: 3/4

December 9, 2008
Manohla Dargis
New York Times
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The Reader is a scrupulously tasteful film about an erotic affair that turns to love.

| Original Score: 2.5/5

December 9, 2008
Anthony Lane
New Yorker
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The whole film, in fact, with its loping pace and plaintive score, feels like a woefully polite, not to say British, take on a foreign horror; was there really no one, from the fierce new wave of German filmmakers, prepared to dramatize the Schlink?

Full Review Source: New Yorker

December 8, 2008
Ben Lyons
At the Movies
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I found Kate Winslet to be absolutely mesmerizing.

Full Review Source: At the Movies

December 8, 2008
Ben Mankiewicz
At the Movies
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I think this is a great film.

Full Review Source: At the Movies

December 8, 2008
Andrew Sarris
New York Observer
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Despite the efforts of [all involved], the Holocaust remains the elephant in the room that deadens the elements of surprise and suspense we have been conditioned to expect in screen narratives.

Full Review Source: New York Observer

December 3, 2008
David Ansen
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The Reader asks tough questions, and, to its credit, provides no easy answers.

Full Review Source: Newsweek

December 1, 2008
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