Saturday, January 17, 2009

"The Reader" (2008) - Movie Review

A person draws a picture of her or him to the people they meet. It gets mingled with the thoughts and perceptions to each of them they meet and their understanding. The truth strangely as it can be has a version of itself in different form for each of those people about one particular character. Even the closest of the friends might be some one who might not expect anything nearly to the one they have drawn. Under exigence circumstances or simply in the events of daily activities they can be some one else. Is there a complete calligraphy of a person on a definite paper of living? Quite honestly not. Hanna Schmitz (Kate Winslet) is a woman with a dominance and develops an affair beginning to see the face of love towards a much younger boy, Michael Berg (David Kross). Her picture of who she is when the past runs in the minds of grown up Michael (Ralph Fiennes) is not a question with a simple answer.

Michael gets his teenage crossed with a much older Hanna. It obviously begins strictly as a passionate physicality and then after the regularity of their love making leaves the gap to fill, Hanna asks what is Michael learning in school. She is drawn into the literature and wants to be read the books Michael studies. Michael with shyness as time goes becomes a great reader which prompts him to the career of being a lawyer. No talking comes between them. It is reading and passionate sex.

That part was a beauty of eroticism and sensual literature. And Hanna makes her to be affected by the books Michael reads. But little does Michael knows about Hanna who is opaque. She is a statue with firmness and nothing but her command and wishes. Not stern but she reads the mind of Michael and says it with firm voice which he obliges to do. Both in this web of unknown outcome begins to fall for each other. Michael more so as he is the young boy hitting the barriers of sexual exploration. For Hanna, well no one can really understand. She till the end becomes a woman who cannot be understood.

Hanna steps out of Michael’s life and comes back in a court room. She was in SS and has worked as a guard seeing the death sentence of hundreds and hundreds of victims in the ill fated camp. What happens then and how Michael’s fellow students perceive it and how he perceives it becomes the element of debate and ambiguity in the “The Reader. Hanna’s stale clinical explanation of doing her job only makes it worse for Michael. He feels to be a part of the guilt she is been charged of.

Watch how Kate Winslet walks Hanna Schmitz. How she has attended to the detail of a woman in an authoritative character and an attachment of masculinity to the manner in which she speaks shows her liking to perform this role. What I liked most is the young actor David Kross. He is this kid as Hanna always calls him who in his fantasy begins to like the woman. He goes beyond the sex and wonders about the love and the nature of it changing his life. And when the knowledge of Hanna in court room unfolds he is confused and do not know what to think. That perplex and the eventual seclusion of his emotional side are well enacted by him.

“The Reader” tells three parts of the story. One being the affair, the second is the crucial part of Hanna being tried while the later part of grown Michael trying to see terms with the acts of Hanna and himself towards her. It in its second part brings a long lasting unnoticed question of what were the people thinking. How naive, coward and evil of them to not react and ignore the staging of ultimate evil. And at the same time places Michael as the man who knows this person and the haunting past of the very same lady. Where does justice stand? Where does morality stand? Is there even a conclusion? When things happen and unforgivable acts are done, what is the solution? Forgiveness, revenge or peace? All open questions and the answers guessed are not helpful because it only brings fear for those moments where we could not forgive ourselves.

“The Reader” is a complex film with story taking courses abruptly. It has the beauty of the literature and the poetry of eroticism. And it has the cruelty of not providing solutions because there are always no reasons and no end. It lasts in the souls and in the conscience fighting the bitter battle within itself. As “Doubt” we are frustrated with a state of unsettlement. It does not blows your mind but confuses you on the stand of rightness. “Doubt” was a success in the dissatisfaction but “The Reader” is a little bit more than that. It has compassion in its story telling and leaves us with questions. And we have a whole life time to wonder about it and compare it with our shapes of realities.

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