The Reader

Rated 3.0

In 1995 Berlin, a middle-aged lawyer (Ralph Fiennes) looks back to the divided Germany of the 1950s, when his teenage self (David Kross) had a furtive affair with an older woman (Kate Winslet), only to see her 10 years later standing trial as a Nazi war criminal. With this cast and the fine performances on hand—including (especially) a brief but indelible cameo by Lena Olin in twin roles as mother-and-daughter Holocaust victims—the movie should have been a lot better. Then again, with such a disjointed, far-fetched and implausible script (by David Hare, from Bernhard Schlink’s novel) and with Stephen Daldry’s slack direction, it might have been a lot worse. In a miscalculation, Kross and Fiennes share their role, while Winslet plays hers throughout (trolling for that elusive Oscar, perhaps?).