Mixed or average reviews - based on 38 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 125 Ratings

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  • Starring: , ,
  • Summary: The Reader opens in post-WWII Germany when teenager Michael Berg becomes ill and is helped home by Hanna, a stranger twice his age. Michael recovers from scarlet fever and seeks out Hanna to thank her. The two are quickly drawn into a passionate but secretive affair. (The Weinstein Company)
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 19 out of 38
  2. Negative: 2 out of 38
  1. Reviewed by: Jenni Miller
    Winslet deserves an Oscar for her amazing performance.
  2. 78
    There is a sense of ambiguity at the core of The Reader that makes it all the more brutal, all the more honest in its deflowering of love and what one imagines love ought to be instead of what it too often is.
  3. 75
    The Reader is closer to a near miss than a rousing success but, on balance, this is still worth seeing for those who enjoy complexity and moral ambiguity within the context of a melodrama.
  4. The cast is superb: especially Kate Winslet, who transcends, by far, the limits of her character's narrow soul. Yet The Reader remains schematic, and ultimately reductive.
  5. Provocatively intentioned, The Reader is a movie worth seeing - the kind of film you'll think about for days afterward. But when all is said and done, you're likely to wonder why the impact wasn't greater still.
  6. 50
    After a sensuous introductory act, The Reader descends into a series of dismaying contradictions regarding the moral toxins of the Holocaust - which still pollute postwar Germany.
  7. Reviewed by: Matthew Sorrento
    The shallowest "serious" film to be reeling this year.

See all 38 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 32 out of 41
  2. Negative: 5 out of 41
  1. May 26, 2011
    Like the cinematic equivalent of a Henry James novel: difficult but worth the effort. Kate Winslett turns in as subtle & convincing a performance as any I've seen: tender, harsh, sexy, angry, confused, and, finally, shattered by remorse. Ralph Fiennes may finally have wiped out my memory of his horrendous turn in "Ivanov" a few years back. Russian melancholy is too florid for him, but buttoned-up German melancholy is a great fit. What I like best about the film, though, is that it's ethically all shades of grey--NOT pro-Nazi but posing questions such as how ordinary people come to commit atrocities, which strikes me as a much more important question than Hollywood's favorite, "How much do we hate Nazis?" Not a film to be watched for diversion but for discussion and reflection. Wish there were more such. Expand
  2. Mar 17, 2011
    I totally get why some people don't care for this movie. I found it to be a fairly effective drama, one that raises more questions than it answers, especially (for me) questions about courage, and it's use, and the nature of betrayal. I suppose the parts of the film that interested me the most, and wish there had been time to explore further, were when they addressed the very broad brush that all Germans have been painted with since WWII, the anger that following generations have felt towards their parents and grandparents generations (as demonstrated by the law students), and the "well what would you have done in this situation?" question that lingers unasked in every wing of this film. I felt like it was well shot, well cast, and well acted. The script could maybe use some trimming, and some pumping up here and there. The relationship with the father and mother could have certainly benefited from 30 seconds of dialogue one way or another. What did they do during the war? How much did they lose? How did they feel about the people that had ruined their country, their lives, and their national reputation? There's a universe of possibilities in this film, and quickest path was sadly chosen. We can moralize and pass judgment all we want on the past, and yet we live, right now, in a world full of war crime, genocide, government excess, and police state fear. I doubt very much that man has learned anything about its self since the holocaust, other than to point fingers, and to tut tut "evil foreigners", which is precisely the mentality that lead human beings to attempt to cause the extinction of an entire other race of human beings. I don't think we are ever meant to feel sorry for anyone at any point in this movie, other than the victims of Nazi Germany, which, ironically, includes everyone in the movie to one extent or another! One is left with no doubt about how the Jewish victims felt certainly, or, more importantly still, how we should feel when confronted by the monstrosity that was the Nazi murder machine when we are given a solemn tour of a death camp (Auschwitz?). I think I was left with what the director intended by the end, a deep sense of ambivalence about humanity, the power of an individual, and our ability to tolerate the presence of real evil in our midst. Expand
  3. Mar 15, 2013
    Kate Winslet's shines in this bleak thought provoking movie. While it is gloomy and graphic, one can't help but feel sympathy for her character even though she should be despised. The story accomplished what it sought to tell, and it did so quite convincingly. Expand
  4. Feb 6, 2012
    Watchable but not the movie it was hyped up to be. The whole movie was held together by the excellent performance by Winslett and I felt it would have worked better without the flash forward moments to the present which broke the flow of the movie. Expand
  5. May 24, 2013
    The Reader is an interesting little film. I love dramas and Stephen Daldry is one of my favorite directors (The Hours, Billy Elliot). The reason I say it's interesting is because it features some really great elements, but I don't think it's a "great" film. It's a gorgeous movie, Winslet is great (even though it's not her best performance imo), David Kross is surprisingly good, Daldry's direction is solid, and the supporting cast is quite nice, but overall the film suffers from some pacing problems and it felt a bit emotionally cold to me. I was reminded a lot of the English Patient, only The Reader isn't quite as epic or effective. Still worthy of a recommendation. Nominated for 5 Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actress. Expand
  6. Apr 6, 2012
    This was an utter disappointment. It is not a terrible movie, but it is just not good. Mediocre as its best. The performances and the fame of the actors involved , helped to promote it. Undoubtedly, the director and producers tried to create an original story but it was not. It was just cheesy and almost unethical. They want us to feel empathy for Kate Winslet's character, and they tried too hard. However, there was no good reason for us to feel sorry about her..She was just and outrageously selfish, calculating, despicable person. She took advantage of a boy, and used him; later, she became a Nazi, and as such, she coldly participated in crimes against the humanity and she doesn't show any regret about it; well at least not until many years later, when she is in jail (which is nothing to applaud). Is she then just a messed up person who deserves compassion and the incoditional love of the one she hurt and used? Not at all! The most unrealistic part of the film is when, in court, since she was embarrassed of not being literature, she prefers to go to jail rather than reveal the truth that could save/help her. I mean, honestly? A mass murdered cares about what people thinks about her?. If just doesn't make sense! Finally, the ending was totally cheesy, cliche...! I will never understand why as an adult, the boy still admired her and had feelings for her....! They wanted to make a beautiful, touching movie...but the story is fake. This movie is not sensible; the producers and director tried hard to manipulate the spectator's feelings.They are forgetting that unlike many other movies related to crime, punishment, and regret (e.g The Woodsman), what happened to the Jews was not just an abuse, was much, much more...millions died because of it! The victims...they were not just movie characters, they were real, they truly suffered. This movie is not even about understanding a 'good Nazi', but it focus in one of the worse kind of people you can get (Winslet's character)..and people like her don't deserve a movie that aims to rescue their 'good nature'...what they deserve is our despise. Expand
  7. Jan 11, 2014
    I would only say: bad, bad movie. The protagonist isn't able to act, and the screenplay was atrocious and very bad. The main theme was trivial and repetitive. There are many other better movies about this theme and I think The Reader isn't absolutely brilliant or good one. Bye! Expand

See all 41 User Reviews