The Reader Stephen Daldry

The Reader Stephen Daldry
Many people felt that Kate Winslet's Oscar nomination last year was well deserved, except it was for the wrong film. While her role in Stephen Daldry's The Reader was another stellar performance in a young career packed with them it was her work in Sam Mendes Revolutionary Road that truly deserved the recognition. The Academy had the last laugh, awarding the much-coveted golden statue to the frumpy Nazi-MILF but don't let sour grapes stop you from checking out Winslet's big role. While a far from perfect film, The Reader is worth renting, even if its only for the first half. As a 15-year-old boy, Michael Berg (David Kross) falls ill and is aided by a strange woman named Hannah (Winslet) in an alley. After returning to her apartment to thank her for her kindness they embark on a mutually beneficial affair: he gets to experience sex and Hannah has him read to her. Michael continues to pursue her until she mysteriously disappears one day. Years later, while participating in a law school seminar, Michael discovers Hannah on trial for Nazi activities. During the war she and five other women let 300 Jewish women from Auschwitz die in a burning church. For The Reader to work viewers must have at least some sympathy for a Nazi and to that end, Daldry does an admirable job. By not revealing Hannah's past deeds until the film's halfway point we become invested in Michael's life enough to care about her because he does. But Hannah's trial and subsequent imprisonment — the most dramatic events of the film's second half — play out quickly and with little fanfare. And despite the inner torture Michael experiences during this period, his unwillingness to share with the people around him makes feeling for his situation rather difficult. The DVD includes a bevy of extras, including the usual "Making Of" featurettes, and a conversation with director Stephen Daldry but unfortunately no commentary track. (Alliance)