User Score
7.1

Generally favorable reviews- based on 136 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 15 out of 136
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  1. HillaryP.
    Jan 10, 2009
    10
    To KL before ragging on this movie for the full frontal nudity of a teenager, maybe you should do some research, the "teenager" was born 7/90, making him 18 and of legal age of consent to film what ever he wants...so I urge you to judge the film on its actual content and not your uninformed opinion. This is fiction people!!
  2. ChelseaJ
    Jun 30, 2009
    9
    This movie is a great depiction of the victimization of women the world over. This single woman is jailed for the heinous crimes of Nazi men, and her single supporter who could have helped her kept silent...Ah, men, how dispicably you are portrayed in this film. She is held responsible for men's wars and is punished for them...Ugh, it is truly reprehensible.
  3. Mar 15, 2013
    7
    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.
  4. HollyC
    May 5, 2009
    8
    Winslet definitely deserved her Oscar (though I haven't seen Revolutionary Road yet)--her portrayal was fascinating from start to finish. There is nothing black and white about this film for me (other than that Winslet is great and I loved Kross as well). No easy judgement of the characters or what they did, mercy regarding personal shame and punishment--all totally shown in their Winslet definitely deserved her Oscar (though I haven't seen Revolutionary Road yet)--her portrayal was fascinating from start to finish. There is nothing black and white about this film for me (other than that Winslet is great and I loved Kross as well). No easy judgement of the characters or what they did, mercy regarding personal shame and punishment--all totally shown in their complexity-- and I'm pretty sure that was the idea. As soon as you want to condemn someone, you must face your own moral relativity. This film gives you many chances to judge or sympathize and leaves it to you to figure it out. Bravo. Expand
  5. KeeD.
    Mar 24, 2009
    9
    I completely agree with Maciej C. in one respect: Kate Winslet deserved her Oscar, but it should not have been for this movie. So nice to find a kindred spirit! Winslet's performance in "Revolutionary Road" was SHOCKINGLY good - awesome in the truest sense of the word. As for The Reader, I can understand the critics' opinions that parts of the 2nd half did not live up to the I completely agree with Maciej C. in one respect: Kate Winslet deserved her Oscar, but it should not have been for this movie. So nice to find a kindred spirit! Winslet's performance in "Revolutionary Road" was SHOCKINGLY good - awesome in the truest sense of the word. As for The Reader, I can understand the critics' opinions that parts of the 2nd half did not live up to the beginning. What I hate, though, is their seeming dislike of ambiguity. Hello! Ambiguity and a sense of the characters suffocating their emotions doesn't make for a bad, or even average, film. I found it heartbreaking in so many ways, and that's ok. Also, when critics are moralizing about their individual interpretations of The Holocaust, they are not reviewing a film. They're just trying to promote their opinions. This film doesn't FORCE you to have sympathy for a Nazi. It asks you, "DO YOU THINK you could have sympathy for a Nazi?" It draws no conclusions, just puts out plot points to make people think, and question their long-held opinions. I gave this film a 9 because it's not perfect. But in the world of current film-making, it is one of the best. Expand
  6. JayH.
    Apr 9, 2009
    8
    Winslet's powerful and remarkable performance makes this well worth watching. Very well written, fine period detail. The story is always interesting. The art direction and cinematography are exceptional.
  7. gutierrezr.
    Dec 14, 2008
    10
    The best performance of the year miss kate winslet
  8. FrankO.
    Jan 10, 2009
    10
    This is on my top 10 list for 2008 right now. I found it a beautiful and powerful movie. It's like two separate films in one, the first half a love affair while the 2nd half was a resolution to the impact of secrets among ourselves. I strongly recommend this film for any serious movie goer.
  9. DaleM
    Jan 30, 2009
    10
    Excellent movie. I'm surprised at the low scores given this movie and the ridiculous reasons for the low scores. I suspect that most people still prefer movies with really bad guys and really good guys such as a superhero movie. This movie has good and bad mixed all up and I'm sure that blows most people's minds and sense of decency.
  10. JudyW.
    Jan 9, 2009
    10
    I loved the moral ambiguity. It is one of the most thought-provoking films I've seen in a long time and Kate Winslet is outstanding.
  11. SakalIevgeniia
    Feb 17, 2009
    7
    My first impression was that this is great and striking movie. It was like an attempt to look on things and events from inside. Firstly this film reminded me The Captain Reddle in the way of showing the life in its shocking diversity. It raises the quastions of law and moral, what should be judged and what we could have a mercy on. So, frankly speaking, it seems a bit ideological, I mean My first impression was that this is great and striking movie. It was like an attempt to look on things and events from inside. Firstly this film reminded me The Captain Reddle in the way of showing the life in its shocking diversity. It raises the quastions of law and moral, what should be judged and what we could have a mercy on. So, frankly speaking, it seems a bit ideological, I mean an attempt to normalizing history. Is it possible to explain everything trough the feeling of obidience to law. Of course, moralizing is not the best way of accepting and interpretating because we should take into account different "personal reasons". Still as it was said in the film - every law is connected to current life. So from "today moral values" it seems like whitewashing of old crimes. PS. I am sorry for my grammar I am not a native speaker))) Expand
  12. TonyB.
    Feb 5, 2009
    9
    "The Reader" is a fine piece of filmmaking. It is one of all too infrequent examples of a truly adult film that many discerning adults will appreciate. Those who prefer their characters to be all this or all that should stay away. The film's moral ambiguity will not be to their liking. Kate Winslet, the best actress of her generation, is superb and is supported by a superior cast.
  13. Michaell
    Mar 7, 2009
    9
    Great cast and great performances - especially by Winslet and Kross.
  14. FredK
    May 9, 2009
    10
    Most reviewers who panned the movie missed the point (and they would benefit from viewing the Director's feature included on the DVD). If you're expecting a classic Holocaust film, this isn't it. But neither is it 'soft on the Nazis', as some claim. Watch it and draw your own conclusions -- they may not come easily, but that's what separates great films from Most reviewers who panned the movie missed the point (and they would benefit from viewing the Director's feature included on the DVD). If you're expecting a classic Holocaust film, this isn't it. But neither is it 'soft on the Nazis', as some claim. Watch it and draw your own conclusions -- they may not come easily, but that's what separates great films from good ones. Expand
  15. JeffH.
    Jan 3, 2009
    9
    Wonderful movie with great acting.But isn't it illegal to show nude a 15-year old character even if the actor is over 18?
  16. BillyS.
    Jan 4, 2009
    9
    Above all, The Reader is a beautifully filmed love story and not the Holocaust movie that critics led me to believe it was. Kate Winslet is illuminous and heartbreaking as Anna, reminding me of Vanessa Redgrave as Julia, and if she gets a supporting actor nomination for this she will be the clear favorite. Ralph Feinnes is once again outstanding and deserves recognition but with In Above all, The Reader is a beautifully filmed love story and not the Holocaust movie that critics led me to believe it was. Kate Winslet is illuminous and heartbreaking as Anna, reminding me of Vanessa Redgrave as Julia, and if she gets a supporting actor nomination for this she will be the clear favorite. Ralph Feinnes is once again outstanding and deserves recognition but with In Bruges, The Duchess and The Reader he will slpit his own votes and go without again this year. Please give The Reader a chance, it's not Schindler's List or The Pianist, it is a love story for the ages! Expand
  17. katherynh
    Mar 18, 2009
    9
    Kate Winslet and David Kross give deeply sensitive portrayals of complex characters. Kudos to them.
  18. SilroneL.
    Dec 13, 2008
    10
    incredible and powerfull movie. Winslet, Kross and Fiennes are amazing.
  19. JaneG.
    Dec 28, 2008
    8
    An adult film that keeps your attention without throughout. Rating of 58 almost kept us away.
  20. anie
    Jan 22, 2009
    9
    Pretty good movie. first I was like OMG to much sex in. but you only have to wathed till the end to see all the beauty of the acting the script the images the ... all the movie. and for those who can't do the part of fiction and reality you know some actors can play characters younger than they are.
  21. thomass
    Apr 27, 2009
    10
    The Reader Professional reviewers had a hard time with this one. A majority were favorable, but like the minority, seemed unable to formulate what it was that they liked or disliked. I think this kind of review is a result of taboo on shame in our society. Like sex in Victorian society, doing it is one thing, but talking about it is another. Perhaps the film is mostly about the power of The Reader Professional reviewers had a hard time with this one. A majority were favorable, but like the minority, seemed unable to formulate what it was that they liked or disliked. I think this kind of review is a result of taboo on shame in our society. Like sex in Victorian society, doing it is one thing, but talking about it is another. Perhaps the film is mostly about the power of shame, both for the characters and for the audience. It repeatedly makes the point that the guilty are also innocent, and the innocent arealso guilty, because of shame and guilt. During the trial, Hanna is so ashamed of being illiterate that she accepts a life sentence. And Michael is so ashamed of his relationship with her that he doesn Expand
  22. SimoneR
    Jul 22, 2009
    7
    Bit late to review this particular movie, but was inspired to search the internet directly afterwards to see what others has drawn from it, to help me sort out my own concerns and was compelled to comment on the review in this forum by Thomas S. Your take on the deabilitating affliction of shame that shapes the course of human lives as it festers away under the calm construction of Bit late to review this particular movie, but was inspired to search the internet directly afterwards to see what others has drawn from it, to help me sort out my own concerns and was compelled to comment on the review in this forum by Thomas S. Your take on the deabilitating affliction of shame that shapes the course of human lives as it festers away under the calm construction of secrets and lies truly affected me........I guess the truth sets us all free. Expand
  23. TalitaE.
    Dec 14, 2008
    10
    I just loved everything. Perfect!
  24. adam
    Dec 26, 2008
    10
    It's a very good movie, and not dull at all.
  25. May 26, 2011
    10
    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, butLike 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
  26. Mar 17, 2011
    8
    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 brushI 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
  27. Sep 3, 2014
    8
    Kate Winslet's portrayal of Hanna in The Reader is her finest performance to date. It's rare that one actress has her two greatest roles in a single year. Oh, and the film with break every inch of your heart--it may appear tender at times, but this film is an emotional punch.
  28. May 23, 2015
    7
    Fascinating, philosophical, gloomy, and ambiguous drama. One can't help but admire conviction of Hanna Schmitz. Kate Winslet as Schmitz shines and sparkles in a role that's tailor made. The movie provokes the conscience of a cine-goer, and asks profound philosophical questions. The direction is deftly handled. The handling of penultimate scenes deserve kudos. Court room scenes are a standFascinating, philosophical, gloomy, and ambiguous drama. One can't help but admire conviction of Hanna Schmitz. Kate Winslet as Schmitz shines and sparkles in a role that's tailor made. The movie provokes the conscience of a cine-goer, and asks profound philosophical questions. The direction is deftly handled. The handling of penultimate scenes deserve kudos. Court room scenes are a stand out. Screenplay is wonderful.
    What one could object to is the extreme graphic nature of the movie. It could have been toned down. Nonetheless, it is a must watch !
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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.