The Reader Reviews

Top Critic
Todd McCarthy
Variety
July 6, 2010
Stephen Daldry's film is sensitively realized and dramatically absorbing, but comes across as an essentially cerebral experience without gut impact.
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Kristin Tillotson
Minneapolis Star Tribune
April 8, 2009
If Winslet carries the complex psychological intrigue of the film on her shoulders, David Kross carries the heart of it on his.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Dave Calhoun
Time Out
January 5, 2009
Its issues are infinite and moveable. It's a bold and challenging work.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/6
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Lisa Kennedy
Denver Post
December 30, 2008
The trial's outcome leads us into a third act that continues to give renewed, rending meaning to the movie's title.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Michael Granberry
Dallas Morning News
December 30, 2008
The Reader is a bold and provocative film and one of the most exquisite of 2008.
Full Review | Original Score: A
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Connie Ogle
Miami Herald
December 29, 2008
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 | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Moira MacDonald
Seattle Times
December 29, 2008
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 | Original Score: 3/4
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Ann Hornaday
Washington Post
December 29, 2008
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.
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Cole Haddon
Film.com
December 25, 2008
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 | Original Score: C-
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J. R. Jones
Chicago Reader
December 25, 2008
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 | Original Score: 3/4
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Carrie Rickey
Philadelphia Inquirer
December 24, 2008
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 | Original Score: 3/4
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Tom Long
Detroit News
December 24, 2008
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 | Original Score: C+
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Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times
December 24, 2008
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 | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Wesley Morris
Boston Globe
December 24, 2008
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 | Original Score: 2/4
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Bill Goodykoontz
Arizona Republic
December 24, 2008
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 | Original Score: 3.5/5
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Michael Phillips
Chicago Tribune
December 24, 2008
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 | Original Score: 2/4
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Roger Moore
Orlando Sentinel
December 23, 2008
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 | Original Score: 4/5
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David Edelstein
New York Magazine/Vulture
December 15, 2008
It appears that the filmmakers have taken Hannah Arendt's notion of the 'banality of evil' way too literally.
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Peter Rainer
Christian Science Monitor
December 12, 2008
The movie adaptation by screenwriter David Hare and director Stephen Daldry starts out choppy and overdrawn but develops a cumulative power.
Full Review | Original Score: B
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Joe Morgenstern
Wall Street Journal
December 12, 2008
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.
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Peter Howell
Toronto Star
December 12, 2008
Like a good book with missing pages, The Reader seems stripped of essential meaning.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Richard Schickel
TIME Magazine
December 12, 2008
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.
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Mick LaSalle
San Francisco Chronicle
December 12, 2008
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 | Original Score: 2/4
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Kenneth Turan
Los Angeles Times
December 11, 2008
It is Winslet's haunting performance that gives the film what success it has.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
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Rick Groen
Globe and Mail
December 11, 2008
Intellectually scant, emotionally scant.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Dana Stevens
Slate
December 11, 2008
A titillating romance that suddenly morphs into a suspense-free courtroom drama, then trickles off in a wan coda of hand-wringing.
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Ella Taylor
L.A. Weekly
December 11, 2008
The Reader is low-budget, high-profile and beamed straight at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Category of High Moral Tone.
Top Critic
Peter Travers
Rolling Stone
December 10, 2008
[Winslet's] fierce, unerring portrayal goes beyond acting, becoming a provocation that will keep you up nights.
| Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Rafer Guzman
Newsday
December 10, 2008
The Reader asks profound questions about guilt and redemption, but its answers are misguided and misleading.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Kyle Smith
New York Post
December 10, 2008
'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 | Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
Elizabeth Weitzman
New York Daily News
December 10, 2008
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 | Original Score: 3/5
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Tasha Robinson
AV Club
December 10, 2008
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 | Original Score: A-
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Lisa Schwarzbaum
Entertainment Weekly
December 10, 2008
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 | Original Score: B-
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Claudia Puig
USA Today
December 9, 2008
A slow-moving but absorbing story of sexual awakening and moral dilemmas.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Stephanie Zacharek
Salon.com
December 9, 2008
The Reader comes off as a movie that doggedly follows some dull, preordained text. It's Winslet who dares to read between the lines.
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Christy Lemire
Associated Press
December 9, 2008
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 | Original Score: 3/4
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James Berardinelli
ReelViews
December 9, 2008
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 | Original Score: 3/4
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Manohla Dargis
New York Times
December 9, 2008
The Reader is a scrupulously tasteful film about an erotic affair that turns to love.
| Original Score: 2.5/5
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Anthony Lane
New Yorker
December 8, 2008
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?
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Ben Lyons
At the Movies
December 8, 2008
I found Kate Winslet to be absolutely mesmerizing.
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Ben Mankiewicz
At the Movies
December 8, 2008
I think this is a great film.
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Andrew Sarris
New York Observer
December 3, 2008
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.
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David Ansen
Newsweek
December 1, 2008
The Reader asks tough questions, and, to its credit, provides no easy answers.