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

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 129 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: 33 out of 42
  2. Negative: 5 out of 42
  1. SilroneL.
    Dec 13, 2008
    incredible and powerfull movie. Winslet, Kross and Fiennes are amazing.
  2. FrankO.
    Jan 10, 2009
    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. Expand
  3. HillaryP.
    Jan 10, 2009
    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 I urge you to judge the film on its actual content and not your uninformed opinion. This is fiction people!! Expand
  4. HollyC
    May 5, 2009
    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. SakalIevgeniia
    Feb 17, 2009
    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
  6. roberti
    Feb 28, 2009
    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. 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 42 User Reviews