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Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Reader by Stephen Daldry, 2008 (R)

with Ralph Fiennes (In Bruges, The English Patient, Skyfall, The Hurt Locker), David Kross (War Horse), Kate Winslet (Titanic, Mildred Pierce, Contagion), Susanne Lothar (The Piano Teacher - La Pianiste), Alissa Wilms, Florian Bartholomäi, Friederike Becht, Jeanette Hain, Alexandra Maria Lara (Youth without youth, Farewell - L'affaire Farewell), Bruno Ganz (Youth without youth), Volker Bruch (The Red Baron - Der rote Baron), Karoline Herfurth, Hannah Herzsprung, Linda Bassett (Kinky Boots), Kirsten Block

Michael Berg (Ralph Fiennes) reflects on the formative sexual relationship he had with older woman Hanna Schmitz (Kate Winslet, in a Golden Globe- and Oscar-winning role) as a young teenager in this poignant drama set in post-World War II Germany. The passionate affair ended when Hanna disappeared. But years later, Michael learns she's on trial for horrific Nazi war crimes. David Kross plays the teenage Michael in this film based on Bernhard Schlink's best-seller.

Most troubling movie in a long time, perhaps most troubling movie ever. It is a beautiful story of coming of age, melted in a horrible context, which let its characters to become other, and eventually, the target of a bigger system they embrace, sometimes in the most innocent way, somewhat, in a inhuman manner, mixed between the authorities and their own sensibility. Seen from the eyes of a keen man, forgiving the human nature, it puts in question the even more irrational behavior of Nazis during world war 2 and their covering up afterward. Most of all, it is the contrast between what we understand of the childhood of berg and his coming of age in a world revealing itself ugly, in the most conflicting way. I don't remember crying, I guess I was still figuring out what that makes Schmitz, which perhaps I am still figuring out, four years later. How can someone be so ignorant, so stubborn, perhaps so responsible, so guilty, and at the same time, so innocent. How can we rationally judge, and how can we forgive, when there always one to blame, when something horrible happens. The cast is just perfect, most amazing. And the movie excels as much as the book, which I happened to read later on.

It is from the same director as the poignant "The Hours" and the movie I cried the most in "Billy Elliot". Looking forward to "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close".

Watch Trailer:


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