User Score
7.1

Generally favorable reviews- based on 137 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 92 out of 137
  2. Negative: 15 out of 137
Watch On

Review this movie

  1. Your Score
    0 out of 10
    Rate this:
    • 10
    • 9
    • 8
    • 7
    • 6
    • 5
    • 4
    • 3
    • 2
    • 1
    • 0
    • 0
  1. Submit
  2. Check Spelling
  1. ChipL.
    Feb 4, 2009
    5
    Frustratingly uneven throughout. Kate Winslet literally saves the film from being a complete mishmash. Ralph Fiennes is completely limp and adds nothing and is almost ridiculously inert. The young MIchael is an attractive and intriguing guy, but the college age MIchael looks and acts strange and not in a revealing or appropriate way. And was the daughter necessary at all?
  2. CarmineC
    Feb 22, 2009
    5
    Peaking in a the sex was the only saving part of his film: bu evevn this left one conflicted....Ultimately, a boring overwrought film.
  3. watcheragain
    Feb 8, 2009
    4
    Kate Winslet is top-notch and the story has potential but everything is marred by a half unimaginative screenplay, a totally unimaginative direction and a thoroughly hypocritical and underdeveloped character, and that's not Hannah, it's Michael. And Ralph Fiennes is annoying, really really annoying.
  4. roberti
    Feb 28, 2009
    6
    When Ralph Fiennes starts looking wistful, and the flashbacks attack, the film lapses into sentimentality. Scenes of Winslet with young Kross, however, crackle with the power of sexual coming-of-age. Still, too many questions hover unanswered and we leave unsatisfied.
  5. jm
    Mar 1, 2009
    6
    I remember reading the book many moons ago and being absorbed. I didn't have the same feeling with the film. Although dealing with a serious subject, I felt it lacked intensity, even if it was quite moving in parts. Kate Winslet was good but not outstanding. The young German actor Kross was excellent. That's my opinion of the film.
  6. JonathanS.
    Feb 14, 2009
    6
    Although most people seem to say the second half was the better half, focusing more on the German guilt and et cetera aspects, I really enjoyed the first half far more thoroughly. The human aspect was quietly well done, with a subdued resonance running beneath the dialogue. But once the film shifted, it started to gradually get weaker and weaker, not really knowing how to support itself, Although most people seem to say the second half was the better half, focusing more on the German guilt and et cetera aspects, I really enjoyed the first half far more thoroughly. The human aspect was quietly well done, with a subdued resonance running beneath the dialogue. But once the film shifted, it started to gradually get weaker and weaker, not really knowing how to support itself, and ultimately falling flat, losing any emotion it had built along the way. Really, my main problem with the film is that there were so many things that could've been done with the plot and the characters, and it was reduced to barely a nub--the entire theme of protecting a secret and human shame was pratically nonexistant--though the entire film is built around it! Winslet's character already had many complicated layers built in, yet the filmmakers still managed to make her somewhat two dimensional. I went in expecting just an average movie posing as Oscar bait, and was surprised at the first half, only to be ultimately affirmed in the second half of me assumptions. I'm at a loss for putting my critique into words at this moment, but it just seems that all the many little things the film could have done with the plot and characters were ignored, when a truly fantastic film is lurking right beneath the surface, struggling to get out under much more daring hands. This and Benjamin Button were definitely the weakest of the Oscar contenders this year, both of which I consider pure Academy fodder, though not made without talent. Whereas Button had a weak first two hours and a great last hour, The Reader started off well and ended completely without resonance. In my opinion, Winslet gave a much better performance in Revolutioanry Road, which I also consider the best film of the year along with The Wrestler. Expand
  7. Feb 6, 2012
    6
    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.
  8. Apr 6, 2012
    4
    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 triedThis 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
  9. May 24, 2013
    6
    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'sThe 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
  10. Jul 30, 2014
    6
    A defining performance by Kate Winslet. The film has a powerful story behind, but it does not handle it accordingly. "The Reader" seems eager to have its lead actress win the Oscar, but a bit uninterested in leaving its mark on film history.
  11. Jul 31, 2015
    6
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. The Reader dealt with the Holocaust without actually dealing with it. It took an individual experience and skated around the issues with its own, seemingly less powerful one. It had the potential to be more than a story, but instead it took the lesser way out – avoiding the true pain with the shame of a former Nazi's literacy.

    The Holocaust was so huge, but the problem facing Hanna (Kate Winslet) is so trivial in comparison. She had the opportunity to free herself from prison, yet her embarrassment kept her in. This is a storyline that was supposed to evoke emotion, yet I found myself not caring at all. I should have been conflicted, but instead I didn't care about her fate – much like the older Michael (Ralph Phiennes) didn't seem to either. There was passion and intrigue in the state of the affair, but it fizzled as soon as the lovers were separated. At times I felt like we were missing out by not seeing these events play out; we just saw the aftermath.

    Illiteracy is a real problem – one that definitely should be addressed, but perhaps not in a way that erases the struggles of those hurt in the concentration camps? Hanna seemed to prey on the prisoners the same way she preyed on Michael. Rewarding them for reading to her – albeit in much different ways. She was a predator, and in the end I didn't have any emotion towards her. I should have felt disgust, perhaps even sympathy, but it fell flat. "She never intended to leave," and I can't bring myself to care.
    Expand
Metascore
58

Mixed or average reviews - based on 38 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 19 out of 38
  2. Negative: 2 out of 38
  1. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    60
    The Reader can feel stilted and abstract: the film's only flesh-and-blood characters spend half the movie separated. But its emotional impact sneaks up on you. The Reader asks tough questions, and, to its credit, provides no easy answers.
  2. An engaging period drama. But German postwar guilt is not the most winning subject matter for the holiday season.
  3. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    50
    Stephen Daldry's film is sensitively realized and dramatically absorbing, but comes across as an essentially cerebral experience without gut impact.