I have a feeling The Reader is going to be getting under my skin. If you’ve managed to avoid the trailer or hearing about the plot of the film, stop reading now. The movie probably works best the less you know about it going in.

Yes, it’s another sympathetic Nazi movie. One more and we have a trend. But this one is worlds apart from Valkyrie which had all the moral ambiguity of a grapefruit. The Reader, after it is done with some of the most erotic scenes in cinema, makes you think about what, exactly, is the right punishment for those who were complicit in the Nazi’s atrocities. And what is the culpability of those who knew something and said nothing.

Expertly plotted by screenwriter David Hare and directed by Stephen Daldry, the movie moves at its own deliberate pace. I wish it had really unleashed some dramatic fireworks, but they never let the central character, Michael Berg (played by David Kross when young, by Ralph Fiennes older) break his cool reserve. He has a secret, which is

Continue reading about The Reader (minor spoilers)… his affair with Hannah Schmitz (Kate Winslet), a woman who keeps to herself because she has a secret of her own. She was a guard at Auschwitz.

Berg has information that might lessen her sentence in a war crimes trial. But it is information Hannah herself does not want revealed. What is his ethical obligation? What will he do? This is the most interesting question of the movie, and for all the film’s deliberate pace, we get our answer too soon. I wish the filmmakers had drawn these moments out and really milked them for every ounce of suspense.

Rudin battles Harvey over The Reader
David Hare interview with Ain’t It Cool