The Reader (2008) Movie Review

By: Alex Phuong (A Toast) –

The Holocaust was one of the darkest periods in history, and numerous museums have been built to honor those who perished within that horrific era. Films about World War II and the Holocaust have also led to some of the greatest films of all time, such as Schindler’s List (1993) and Saving Private Ryan (1998). Not all films about World War II actually take place on battlefields, though, because the repercussions of war can have a lasting impact on anyone that it affects. The Reader (2008) is a very interesting film because it is a unique love story that reveals the devastation that war could have on people outside of its violence and hysteria.

A Toast

This film contains what is perhaps Kate Winslet’s greatest performance. It allowed her to sweep the acting categories during awards season in 2009 while also having the distinction of winning awards in both leading and supporting roles given the complexity of her character, Hanna Schmitz. The ironic fact about Kate Winslet is that many people adore her performance as Rose from Titanic (1997), but she hardly won any actual awards for that particular role. (She did receive numerous nominations, though.) 2009 was definitely Kate Winslet’s year because she earned acclaim for both The Reader (2008) and Revolutionary Road (2008). Winslet herself had expressed admiration of the novel that formed the basis for this remarkable film. The original author, Bernhard Schlink, also stated that he envisioned Kate Winslet as Hanna, which suggests that this is Winslet’s definitive performance.

Kate Winslet, David Kross


The Reader holds the unique distinction of being very simple and complex simultaneously. In one way, it is simply a love story that builds tension as the relationship progresses. In spite of that simple plotline, this film asks big questions without delivering easy answers, such as what happens to people when they have secrets and lies. Rose from Titanic said that, “A woman’s heart is a deep ocean of secrets,” and Hanna Schmitz is a brilliantly realized character filled with mystery. Stephen Daldry definitely deserved his “Best Director” nomination for directing a film adaptation of a novel that is thematically similar to his other major awards contender, The Hours (2002).

The Reader (2008) Drinking Game

Take a Drink: for every passionate scene

Take a Drink: for every heartbreaking scene

Drink a Shot: for every scene involving reading

About Alex Phuong

Alex Andy Phuong earned his Bachelor of Arts in English from California State University-Los Angeles in 2015. His love affair with cinema began after discovering Turner Classic Movies in the summer of 2004. His favorite film director is Woody Allen, and his favorite movie star is Kate Winslet.

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