February 11, 2009
By Christopher Ray
6 out of 10 – Some magical moments, but they don't make up for the overall pacing of the story
I try deliberately to get a very vague synopsis of a film before going to see it, so as to not ruin the plot but help me decide what to see. The Reader's synopsis was so intriguing that I steered clear of any outside influence. The first time you see a film is a virgin moment, one that can never be repeated. Such films as The Usual Suspects and The Sixth Sense are legendary with their endings, but most people should put blinders on and be allowed to experience a film without precondition or influence.
The Reader's plot is that of a young man and a woman twice his age who engage in a passionate affair for a summer, and years later as a law student this man comes to find this woman in his life again. Except in this scenario she is on trial for war crimes associated with the SS in Nazi Germany. This within itself caused me to about face and avoid any further reading about it, as it sounded fascinating.
I can tell you that it is, and there are some moments in the film that are absolutely magical. It pains me that at times the pacing of the film is so wrong; the chronological jumps are almost confusing and there are several jump cuts within a certain sphere of time that seem as if some producer was yelling at the editor to make up for time and get to the point.
The direction of the film seems to be off as well, and its all very frustrating in the fact that the plot, the themes, and the most important scenes are so damn good. There are three scenes in the movie alone that make it worth a DVD viewing, but just as they get over it drags on in it's own way. The places in which it dragged were not unnecessary, but the road to get there was poorly crafted.
The title itself was probably the most intriguing part going into the film, and I love to elaborate on titles, but in this case it's too fundamental to do so. Kate Winslet steals the show overall and is impeccable as a woman with a secret more shameful than murder. David Kross as the young Michael Berg is spectacular considering the gravity of the role in which he is working. The film is great at moments, but the overall pacing just leaves you wishing it flowed much better than it actually does.