Friday, January 2, 2009

The Reader: I've Got a Secret

Aside from seeing Sacramento clean-up after the New Year's Eve party the night before. I decided to take in a movie. The Crest was offering movies at $5.50 before five p-m for New Year's..and it's the main screen, too.

It's the story of a German woman who has been many things in her life. It's about about a boy who has as affair with her, and it winds up defining both their lives.
There's also a secret, which would have changed a lot.
Now, Buffy Summers (OK, so I am a name dropper), don't ask me if I can vague it up for you. I'm not kidding about that secret. It's the reason why this man is called The Reader.

Yes, it's one of two likely chances Kate Winslet will get for Oscar gold. The other, of course, is Revolutionary Road, which I may see along with lots of other people who still remember Titanic. She's paired with Leonardo DiCaprio, that is. Anywho, The Reader starts with Ralph Fiennes as a lawyer in 1995 Germany. He looks through a window to see a streetcar roll by. A 15 year old boy looks back. That boy is him, and we're sent to 1958. Michael Berg is walking in the rain, vomiting, when a woman helps him get back home. This is the first time Peter meets Hanna Schmitz (Winslet), a train ticket-taker, and a woman he will never forget.

When Michael returns to thank Hanna for her generosity, she isn't sure what to think of him. He does notice now pretty she is, and so does she. It's not long before they start a sexual affair, and this movie shows a lot of skin from both. Later, she asks him to read to her before they make love. It's an odd request, but not when you're a teen. Now, Winslet portrays Hanna as a little sad, but still quite beautiful. While Winlset is 33, her character is a little older. You get the sense she has a lot of regret in her life, mainly when we see her weep inside of a church while a choir is signing. Is it the music that moves her, or something else?

When Hanna is offered a promotion, she decides to leave town and Michael, with no explanation. Eight years later, they are reunited--sort of. He's a law student attending a war crimes trial...and Hanna is one of the defendants. She was a guard at Auschwitz, much to Peter's shock. As he hears about Hanna's real past, he looks like he's ready to vomit again. When the trial gets to one specific incident where hundreds of Jews died in a fire, the evidence suggests that Hanna was responsible because she was in charge. At this point, Michael suddenly realizes Hanna's secret.
Suddenly, it's more than just forgiving those who were part of the Nazi machine. It's about something else, the secret Hanna can't admit. The question is...will he help her?

His decision will affect the rest of his life, and Hanna's, in ways that will surprise you. David Kross, who plays the younger Michael, does a good job as a lanky teen who learns some tough lessons about adulthood. Feinnes shows a lot of strain on his face, but not much else, as the elder Michael. The story itself is pretty interesting. It's based on a novel. Still, all the attention this movie will get is for Winslet's portrayal of Hanna. In a way, this movie reminded me of The Lives of Others, about a Stazi officer who spies on a subversive artist, and how he tries to make peace with what he has done. In the case of The Reader, it's the story of two people who try to make peace with what they have done...or should have done.

One more thing, my website has a new look, with a new solar system. Please take a look!

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