User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 125 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 13 out of 125

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  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

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
    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
    Stephen Daldry's film is sensitively realized and dramatically absorbing, but comes across as an essentially cerebral experience without gut impact.