Lordy, but it’s high time I committed my thoughts on this movie to print, what with it being all Oscar nominated and everything. And, of course, dear old Kate winning her Golden Globe… (well done lass – now please be quiet, and please put them away)
First up, I confess I haven’t read the book on which this is based, though I know a lot of people who rate it very highly indeed. So it may be that some of the problems that I have with the movie are more to do with Bernard Schlink’s original plot. If you hunt around online you’ll see that there’s been a right rammy between The Guardian’s film critic and David Hare, the screenwriter, over whether or not the movie is a pile of poo (I’m paraphrasing here, you understand). Some have accused the film of being overly sympathetic to Nazis, but that isn’t what bothered me quite so much.
What did? Well… I was a bit bored, to be honest. Not helped for me by Ralph Fiennes ‘phoning in his repressed Englishman (who happens to be German) schtick. Even worse is seeing the great Bruno Ganz having to act, in English, as a German professor, and getting very mangled in his accent as a result. He sounds like Columbo! (The simple truth is surely that this film should have been made in German.) And if I see Kate Winslett’s breasts one more time…
All in all, I suspect it’s maybe a three star adaptation of a five star book. Perhaps someday I’ll actually read The Reader and find out. But I will say that I’ve had quite a few conversations with people based on the film, and have found myself thinking ever more about all the issues which it throws up. Maybe that’s pretty good going for any movie.