Based on a novel of the same name, written by Bernhard Schlink, The Reader is one of those Oscar movies. Actually, Oscars have declined in quality quite a lot, especially in the recent years, although it can be claimed that they were never that good, so it would be safer to say that this is one of those all-around great movies. First of all, it’s dealing with a subject so prickly and fickly that even half a century later, we are unable to come to terms with it. Of course, I am talking about the legacy of the Nazi Germany. However, to say that this is a movie about just that would be wrong. Bernhard came up with a pretty good trick, adding maturing teenage sexuality into the mix to make it more potent. And to make things really explode, he added a controversial and criminal female-male sexual interaction. This way, we are not focusing just on one of those aspects, but three of them hit us simultaneously, raising the bar of our sensitivity and enabling us to watch this movie without the usual emotional reactions. Bonus gimmick is the sexual content that feels very private and sensual, almost creating a new genre of porn that’s not amateur or something like that.
It is the year of our lord Satan 1958 and 15-year-old Michael is not feeling so well. Delirious and constantly nauseous, he’s barely able to walk. Hanna Schmitz, a tram conductor, finds him in this state and helps him get home safely. After some time, Michael is finally healthy and eager to say thank you to his savior Hanna. He decides to bring her flowers and Hanna decides to fuck him…
The Reader has a great story, cinematography, acting, lighting, sets and pretty much everything else, so I will just skip all the praise and dive right into the juicy parts. I already mentioned all the sexual tension, but I have to reiterate just how sexy this all was. Kate was ravishing and David Kross young and strong, what a combination. I know that the next subject we should be covering is the reverse situation where a 35-year-old guy seduces a 15-year-old girl. If they made the same movie, but with a male protagonist, you would consider it horrible, distasteful and rightly so. This is just how the world works. I think it’s all about physical power and the fact that Michael could have overpowered and even killed Hanna at any time, while if the situation was different, with an older man and a young woman, she could not escape or defend herself. I also know that the next subject we should be covering is female manipulation, but we could go on and on like this forever. And as you can see The Reader is filled with all these morally ambiguous subjects that are so appropriate for discussion that you could write thousands of pages just about one thing like teenage sexuality.
Director: Stephen Daldry
Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Jeanette Hain, David Kross, Kate Winslet
Fun Stuff: To avoid legal consequences, the crew delayed the filming of sexually explicit scenes until after actor David Kross’ 18th birthday on July 4 2008.