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Best of Boston 2009

Review: The Reader

Tiresome and callow
By PETER KEOUGH  |  January 9, 2009
2.5 2.5 Stars

VIDEO: The trailer for The Reader

It's Christmas, and our thoughts turn toward the Third Reich. Or so it would seem from the films being released for the holiday: two deal directly with the subject and The Spirit offers a tasteless Nazi sequence.

Of the three, this adaptation of Bernhard Schlink's bestseller ponders the deepest issues — e.g. (spoiler), how should a kid feel after he finds out that the older babe he slept with is a war criminal? Stephen Daldry complicates matters with a tiresome frame story set in the future as old Michael (Ralph Fiennes) looks back at his 15-year-old self (David Kross) getting it on with tram conductor Hanna Schmitz (Kate Winslet), or reading to her, or putting up with her tantrums.

Who knew she'd turn out to be a she-devil of the SS and too dumb to defend herself at her trial? The film lingers more on Winslet's nudity than on the nature of guilt, and it offers no reason to care for the lumpen criminal or the callow lover.

Related: Oscar predictions: Liberal gilt, Review: The Kindly Ones, A child of Hitler, More more >
  Topics: Reviews , Bernhard Schlink, Culture and Lifestyle, Hanna Schmitz,  More more >
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