A teenage boy has an illicit affair with an older woman in post-war Berlin and years later finds her on trial as an Auschwitz prison guard.
The Reader is a very worthy examination of German post war guilt and the resulting gulf between the following generations which no doubt resulted in the creation of The Baader-Meinhof Gang. The most interesting part of the film is actually the moral debate between the law students and their tutor and it does make some interesting points about the consequences of culpability through inaction, but the structure of the film as seen through the eyes of an infatuated young boy and his older, wiser self doesn’t really work. It has that kind of sterile tastefulness that “Oscar nominated” films always have and it completely lacked any emotional involvement with the characters. The performances are all strong, but I couldn’t help the feeling that nearly every member of the cast were either too young or too old for their parts and it did not help that David Kross bears absolutely no resemblance to Ralph Fiennes whatsoever, which combines with a rather implausible plot development on which the entire story hinges to make the whole thing rather unconvincing.
Kudos to Kate Winslet for her measured and thoughtful performance, but otherwise The Reader left me rather cold.